PEAS is excited to announce that Dirk Phiri has moved from his role as Head of Finance to Head of Programmes, where he will be overseeing our Zambian operations. Dirk has been a PEAS employee for six years, in which time he has helped PEAS Zambia grow from a single school-operator, to a Government Partner, with four schools and an established reputation for quality education provision. We caught up with Dirk this week to ask him a few questions about his work at PEAS.
When did you start working for PEAS?
I started working at PEAS in 2013. Up until then I had been working in the private sector, first as an auditor for chartered accountants, and later as Chief Accountant at a large Zambian-owned company. I enjoyed my time in that field, and met many great people, but when I saw there was an opportunity to work with PEAS, I really went for it.
Why was that? What made you want to work at PEAS?
I felt very aligned with PEAS’ mission. The whole team here share a strong belief in education as a social good, and the conviction that all learners should be able to access secondary education, regardless of their background. I saw that the PEAS model could provide access for children who might otherwise never complete their schooling, and I jumped at the opportunity to contribute to that end.
What do you enjoy about working at PEAS?
We have become a family. The communication style and the environment that we work in across the PEAS teams, whether in Uganda, Zambia or the UK ensures that we are all very close. Everybody is able to teach and everyone is able to listen, which I think is important given our shared belief in education!
But also, I know that everything we are doing has a lasting impact, because of our focus on sustainability, so it is amazing to see the good work we have done and know it will endure.
What would you like to achieve with PEAS?
My goal in the short-term is to work with the Zambian team to ensure that we get more schools built and more learners in school. That will require us to think carefully, and work diligently, to ensure that we can provide the most access in the most sustainable way.
How do you feel PEAS has impacted the communities it works in?
It has greatly impacted communities, far beyond the schools themselves. It has had a multiplier effect even on other social amenities, as the areas around our schools become hubs for these kind of provisions. Also, people see our schools as part of their community, so as the schools have grown, so have their own communities, in people’s eyes.
What makes PEAS different from other providers in Zambia?
PEAS has a unique, and impact-driven approach to its attainment of its vision and mission. This is very important as we don’t just achieve results, but we are able to test and prove them. It is also the commitment to sustainability that marks PEAS out.
What has been your best experience?
My best experience has been seeing a bush turn into a school. My heart is touched and moved when I meet thousands of children who would have no access to secondary school if we at PEAS weren’t hard at work. Beyond that, I get to work every day and share experiences with such varied groups of people, be they; teams around the world, local communities or international funders, so you could say that my professional circle is quite varied!