Celebrating GTI: 2024 Injini Mastercard Foundation EdTech Fellow

by David Jacobs

 16 April 2024

The Global Teachers Institute (GTI) is thrilled to announce its recognition as one of the 12 Injini Mastercard Foundation Fellows for 2024. With the fellowship, GTI will benefit from over R2.5m in specialized support services designed to enhance learning outcomes in South Africa. These services include hands-on expertise, pedagogical certification, bespoke market research, external consultancy, and substantial networking opportunities. Furthermore, GTI will receive equity-free venture funding of R1.2 million, propelling its innovative Future Leaders Programme towards achieving its audacious goal, together with partner non-profits and universities, of preparing 5,000 new aspiring teachers by 2027.

GTI’s forward-thinking approach has carved out its reputation as a trailblazer in the educational sector, reminiscent of the seismic shifts brought about by companies like Uber and Airbnb. Drawing inspiration from the concept of “disruptive innovation” by Economist Clayton M. Christensen, GTI is redefining the norms of teacher education.


It opts for a groundbreaking model that leverages existing high-performing schools as nurturing grounds for teacher training through its flagship Future Leader Programme (FLP). It steers clear of the costly approach of building more university campuses. This strategy aims to prepare aspiring teachers and make them leading figures in teaching excellence.

The urgency for such innovation is articulated by Hassiena Marriott, Executive Director of GTI, who paints a vivid picture of the current educational landscape in South Africa. “Today, we stand at a critical juncture,” Marriott explains. “Imagine a forest where half of the trees are ancient, signalling an ecosystem on the verge of significant change. This mirrors the imminent retirement of over 50% of our teachers, aged 50 and older, with around 40,000 educators stepping down annually from 2025. Conversely, our capacity to replenish this vital resource is alarmingly inadequate, with universities producing just over 28 000 new teachers yearly against a demand for 40,000. This looming crisis highlights the necessity for a revolutionary approach to teacher training.”

On the technological front, the FLP benefits immensely from the personal zeal of David Jacobs, whose lifelong passion for programming has led to significant innovations within the programme. David’s journey began with a ZX81 as a teenager where he and his brother took on the challenge of building a memory expansion when his first program ran out of memory. This formative experience sparked a lifelong passion for innovation and problem-solving.

Today, David brings that same passion to GTI, leading a team building the Future Leaders Information Portal (FLiP): FLiP acts as the operation’s backbone, tracking the progress of the Future Leaders Programme and enabling the oversight of teacher interns and mentors. It facilitates early intervention for any challenges teacher interns face, ensuring uniformity across the program while empowering data-driven decision-making. With features for real-time monitoring and a tracer study for graduates, FLiP is instrumental in crafting responsive strategies that continuously refine and enhance the Future Leaders Programme.

GTI’s selection as an Injini Mastercard Foundation Fellow for 2024 not only cements its status as an educational innovator but also ignites a beacon of hope for the future of teacher training in South Africa. With a mix of financial backing, technological prowess, and a disruptive educational model, GTI is leading a transformational wave in preparing a new wave of educators to write a new story for education in South Africa.