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Our Founding Story



The Pestalozzi Overseas Children's Trust was registered in 1995 to provide secondary level education to poor children from rural backgrounds in India, Nepal, Thailand and Zambia who showed high academic potential. Two girls were sponsored for every one boy, helping overcome the low priority given to girls’ education in some countries.

The founders, Sir Richard and Lady Butler after learning about the transforming power of the Pestalozzi education approach at the Pestalozzi International Village Trust (now the Pestalozzi International Foundation) in East Sussex were inspired to set up PestalozziWorld to sponsor students in their own countries. Following the teachings of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, the idea was to provide holistic education based on the philosophy of developing the ‘whole child’: the ‘head’ (academic ability), the ‘heart’ (social commitment) and the ‘hands’ (vocational expertise) by providing students with places at good quality local boarding schools and supplementing their academic education by building skills centres at some of the schools. PestalozziWorld also funded several hostels for girls at these schools to enable more girls to benefit. The ambition was to then set up Children’s Villages in India and Zambia at a later stage.


For several years prior to 1995, Sir Richard and Lady Butler, had been responsible for the education of a number of children. These children were mainly the students who were no longer sponsored by the Pestalozzi International Village Trust when the remit of this Trust changed to sponsoring only students who were over 16. Sir Richard and Lady Butler also helped the Thai alumni of the Pestalozzi Village, UK set up the Thai Pestalozzi Foundation in 1990, in order to encourage them to take up the responsibility of helping children in their own countries. This was the beginning of many alumni groups being set up to support further students.



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