Film Premiere: ‘Aspire to Africa: Opening the Doors to A World of Education’

Life changing are the words so often used to describe the Aspire to Africa trip; following the premiere of the breakout documentary ‘Aspire to Africa: Opening the Doors to A World of Education’ all those in attendance saw why.

On 18th January 2018, Aspire Sports Trust premiered the documentary ‘Aspire to Africa: Opening the Doors to A World of Education’ from Birmingham’s up and coming documentary filmmaker, Daina Anderson, in association with Open Lens Productions. Held at The Mockingbird Cinema in the Custard Factory, it was a night of celebration, reflection, inspiration and fun.

The premiere was hosted by Audrey Dias from BBC Midlands Today who revealed the cause to be close to her heart.

Audrey introduced Judith Miller, CEO of Aspire Sports Trust, who spoke of the significant work of the Trust to transform lives through physical activity and sport. Paul Griffiths followed, sharing the motivation behind the Aspire to Africa project. Inspired by his trip in 2003 to a Soweto township in South Africa, Paul wanted to use sport as a vehicle to enhance education.

Filmmaker Daina introduced the documentary and shared her passion for the project. Daina revealed the concentrated effort of the charity pursuing impactful work, noting that every penny of the money raised goes directly towards achieving the charity’s goals.

The screening of the film followed and the words of the previous speakers were brought to life. Documenting 16 individuals’ journey from England to Tanzania, the film gave the audience an insight into the impact of the money raised and the phenomenal work of the Aspire to Africa team at Buyuni One Primary School.

For the first three years after it was established Aspire to Africa worked in multiple schools across four regions of Tanzania. In 2014 it was decided that the project would have an even greater impact if the focus was on one school. Buyuni One is a primary school based in the Dar es Salaam region of Tanzania. As a school that is in a very poor state of disrepair, has a high turnover of teaching staff, low resources and high pupil-teacher ratios it was chosen as the focus of Aspire to Africa.

The team saw first-hand the school’s lack of access to resources, its poor sanitation and hygiene and the low quality of the teachers’ accommodation. With poor building work and broken mosquito nets in the accommodation the risk of malaria is high; the poor ventilation leads to extreme heat during the hotter months and there is no access to electricity. This has led to a high turnover of staff in addition to teachers being unable to plan lessons.

Buyuni One Primary School’s disadvantage from rural location shows the significant role poverty plays in the access and quality of education with some children having to travel up to 20km to school. Children in the poorest areas have little chance of attending secondary school as many fail the entrance exam, resulting in a dramatic negative affect on their life chances.

With teacher-pupil ratios at Buyuni One being 360:6, they are higher than average and teachers are struggling to manage. UNICEF confirms that a Tanzania wide challenge is inefficient teachers, finding that 6% of primary school teachers are leavers or have failed secondary and only 0.6% have a diploma. Consequently, access to a quality education is negatively impacted.

Recognising the challenges faced by Buyuni One, Aspire to Africa aims to educate and inspire children, upskill teachers, enhance school infrastructure and develop communities. The progress made over the last three years has been momentous.

Funds are raised through traditional fundraising campaigns and a close working relationship with Bishop Vesey’s Grammar School in order for the vital work of the project to be delivered and seen by the team first-hand. Bishop Vesey raised £7,254 for the 2017 trip.

The Aspire to Africa team deliver PE activities and work alongside teachers in the classroom, sharing innovative teaching ideas and engaging with the children throughout to encourage creativity. Prior to the project’s involvement, 4 out of 50 children who took their secondary progression exam passed. Since the team’s work with Buyuni One they have now reported that 42 out of 50 children have passed their secondary exam.

The facilities of the school have seen significant improvement. A new well supplying fresh water has beenestablished, solar panels installed for the classrooms and 2 out of the 4 teaching accommodations have been completely refurbished. The installation of the water supply has led to the extension of the medical centre and the electricity means teachers can plan their lessons on an evening.

Two years ago the school was rated 78th out of 90 schools in the district; since the engagement of Aspire to Africa they are now rated 7th.

The film documents not only the effect on the students, teachers and school but the impact on each individual involved. The Aspire team speak of the skills they have gained, the knowledge they have developed and their increased confidence. When asked what they would say to someone considering the trip, their answer was go, it is a trip of a lifetime.

Following the screening was a Q and A with Paul Griffiths, Daina Anderson, Judith Miller and Baljit Kular. Audience members shared their thoughts on the film, one noting it to be an honest representation of the project’s work and another disclosing that they hadn’t stopped crying throughout. The audience was eager to learn what was next for the project. The panel confirmed that the project will continue to work with teachers at Buyuni One to upskill the staff; provide and assist in the development of resources and materials; refurbish two classrooms and two teachers’ houses and put up a safety fence to surround the school site.

Bringing the night to a close, Judith Miller shared ways in which people can get involved and help the charity. Volunteer, fundraise, donate, become a Trustee; there are so many opportunities to support the Trust to enable it to grow and do evermore impactful work. Judith finished the night thanking those who had and continue to support the project and the Trust as a whole.

We would like to thank John Charlton Photography for capturing the evening and to Lucy Dowson, founder of Lucy with a Why, for her support in promoting the event. Finally, a big thank you to everyone that attended the film premiere, it was fantastic to see so many supporting the Trust and be able to celebrate our projects.

If anyone is interested in joining Aspire to Africa 2018 call us on 030 3040 1078 or email

By Rosie Finnegan