PenPal Schools and Via Afrika are walking to freedom

We are excited to announce that we have teamed up with online global learning community, PenPal Schools, to help students around the world work together to learn about a variety of topics, and each other.

PenPal Schools connects over 70,000 students in more than 85 countries through curriculum-guided online exchanges. Classes around the world are paired, and each student is matched with a PenPal for a six week exchange. Via Afrika have developed a first course for PenPal Schools entitled Walking to Freedom, which introduces students to the concepts of prejudice, discrimination and racism, and tells the stories of civic leaders who dedicated their lives to freedom, justice and equality.

Said Christina Watson, CEO of Via Afrika: “Via Afrika couldn’t be prouder to be partnering with PenPal Schools. This first initiative will allow students all around the world, to explore content detailing the injustices suffered by famous civil rights leaders – right here in South Africa and in the rest of the world; in recent times with our own Nelson Mandela, all the way back to the 15th century.”

The course begins with an in-depth look at struggles with racism faced by the world’s indigenous peoples through the 15th to 18th centuries, after which students are taken through the non-violent activism of Mahatma Gandhi. The heroism of Nelson Mandela, Martin Luther King Jr, Helen Joseph and Rosa Parks is covered too. The course concludes in the present day with students learning about champions of human rights fighting for change in the 21st century.

By sharing their responses with a PenPal, students engage meaningfully with the content, discovering other cultures and exploring history and social issues.The aim of this course is to help students to connect and discuss these often-difficult topics that confront people. Walking to Freedom will hopefully inspire students to become advocates for peace and champions for change in their own communities.

“We’re extremely excited to partner with Via Afrika to bring this fantastic course to learners around the world,” said PenPal Schools founder Joe Troyen. “We started PenPal Schools to help to build understanding and respect for all people and this course will teach our PenPals about leaders who fought for those ideals.”


Walking To Freedom is now available to students, teachers, and schools around the world. Join online or download the  app on Google Play or iTunes.

PenPal Schools mural