Our History

Pestalozzi World was established in 1995, by our founders Sir Richard and Lady Butler. Today we are a family of nonprofit organisations with registered charities in the UK, USA, Switzerland, Ireland, Zambia, India and Nepal. We also have close ties to Pestalozzi inspired charities in Malawi and Thailand.

Pestalozzian Legacy

Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi has inspired many charitable organisations. Villages have existed in Switzerland and the UK which brought children from around the world to be educated. Those charities continue to operate but no longer provide direct residential programmes. Some of our most valued supporters and staff were educated by these organisations and continue to give back to others by championing the Pestalozzi World approach.

Pestalozzi World was established on the dual premise that it is more cost effective to educate children in or near their country of origin and that the benefits of their education would have greater impact on their communities and countries by doing so.  Today we maintain a cost per child of around $2,500. For our supporters, this represents unparalleled value for money, given the wide ranging provision we offer, and the outstanding educational and career outcomes demonstrated by our monitoring.

90% of our Alumni reside in their country of origin, with 7% currently studying overseas. We are immensely proud of these statistics which indicate our programmes do not contribute to ‘brain drain’ – the loss of bright minds in the developing world to opportunities overseas

Pestalozzi World Educating for brighter futures
Pestalozzi World children are educated in their country of origin

The Pestalozzi World Children’s Trust

The Pestalozzi Overseas Children’s Trust – since renamed the Pestalozzi World Children’s Trust – was registered in 1995

For several years prior to 1995, the founders of Pestalozzi Overseas Children’s Trust, Sir Richard and Lady Butler, had been responsible for the secondary level education of small numbers of Indian, Nepalese and Zambian students in good English medium schools in their own countries.  These children were mainly the students who were no longer sponsored by the Pestalozzi UK Village when their remit changed to sponsoring only students who were over 16.

Sir Richard and Lady Butler had also helped the Thai alumni of the Pestalozzi Village UK set up the Thai Pestalozzi Foundation which was registered in 1990, in order to encourage them to take up the responsibility of helping children in their own country.

After the Pestalozzi Overseas Children’s Trust’s registration as a charity, in-country programmes of sponsoring Indian, Nepalese, Thai, Tibetan-in-exile, Zambian and Zimbabwean students took off. 

Sir Richard Butler
Sir Richard Butler

Historical Programmes

Between 1995 and 1999, Pestalozzi World supported 50 Zimbabwean girls through the Cambridge Female Education Trust (CamFed).

Between 1995 and 2007, Pestalozzi World supported 109 Tibetan students at the Tibetan Children’s Village, Dharamsala in North India.

In 1998, Pestalozzi World funded a house accommodating 25 students.

Between 1995 and 2016 Pestalozzi World supported 79 students at one of Nepal’s leading English medium schools – Budhanilkantha School, Kathmandu.  In 1996, Pestalozzi World organised a Pestalozzi Vocational Skills Training Centre to ensure theory was put into practice; the building for a Vocational Skills Training Workshop was added in 1999.  The Centre remains active. Pestalozzi World also part-funded a hostel accommodating 124 girls which was completed in 1999.


Two of the most academically bright of the Pestalozzi World students, amongst several from the Tibetan Children’s Village Dharamsala who were funded for further education -  classes 11 and 12 - at the Tibetan Children’s School, Selakui, Dehradun
Paddy at the Pestalozzi Skills Centre, Budhanikantha School Nepal
Paddy at the Pestalozzi Skills Centre, Budhanikantha School Nepal
The Vocational Skills Training Workshop, Budhanilkantha School, Nepal

Between 1995 and 2010, Pestalozzi World supported 38 Indian students at Gurukul Vidhya Vinaya Sabha, Maharashtra, India

Skills class, Gurukul Vidhya Vinaya Sabha 2008

Since 1997, Pestalozzi World has supported children at Shri Sita Ram Higher Secondary School, Uchchakot, Doti in Far West Nepal.  The programme is due to end in 2025.  There are currently 44 students and 132 alumni. Completed in 2004, Pestalozzi World also part-funded a hostel accommodating 40 girls.  Owing to Pestalozzi World’s support, girls and the so-called ‘untouchable’ Dalit castes were able to stay in hostel accommodation for the first time, enabling them to focus on their studies rather than miss a lot of school to help at home and in the fields.

A Shri Sita Ram Pestalozzi World alumnus, himself from the deprived and discriminated against so-called ‘untouchable’ Dalit caste providing Literacy classes to local women
Hostel at Shri Sita Ram Higher Secondary School

Between 1998 and 2007 the Kasisi Centre, Lusaka provided accommodation for over 200 girls who attended local government schools to the end of Class 9 and then completed their education to the end of Class 12 in their home villages. The exceptions to this rule were the 52 particularly bright girls who were selected from the Kasisi Centre to join the Kasisi Girls Secondary School.  In 2007, children joined a temporary village at Leopards Hill and subsequently in 2009 when the accommodation was ready, moved to the Pestalozzi Village at Ibex Hill, Lusaka. 

Since 2009, the Kasisi Centre has provided the first two years – Grades 5 and 6 – of accommodation and in-house schooling to the newly selected children (now both boys and girls) who then go on to the Pestalozzi Ibex Hill Village for Grades 7-12.

Three of the Pestalozzi World funded students at Kasisi Girls Secondary School
Three of the Pestalozzi World students supported in Mzuzu Malawi

Between 2003 and 2011, Pestalozzi World sponsored 50 Malawian students at Kavuzi Community Day Secondary School or at Viphya Secondary School, both in Mzuzu, Malawi.  Pestalozzi World funded the development of a plot of land at Kavuzi Community Day Secondary School into a substantial vegetable garden, cultivated by the students.  Subsequent to this programme, Malawians were selected to join the Zambian Village.

The children sponsored under these programmes were drawn into the Pestalozzi World family through:

  • Regular visits from Pestalozzi World staff
  • The promotion of Pestalozzi Head, Heart and Hands activities at their schools
  • Workshops and cooperative games promoting Pestalozzi values
  • Their contributing to an annual Pestalozzi World Children’s magazine which promoted activities in line with Pestalozzi values, such as care for the environment and valuing their backgrounds
Excerpt by two Tibetan Children’s Village students from one of the magazines
Ibex Hill Village under construction with some of the first students to be educated there

Changing to the current programmes

As Pestalozzi World became increasingly familiar with the countries in which it operated, it changed from supporting students to board at high quality local schools to its current Pestalozzi Village approach. 

The residential care now offered better enables Pestalozzi World to provide a Pestalozzi heart-led Village ethos and a holistic Head, Heart and Hands extra-curricular education to all its children, focused on enabling them to reach their full potential while living happy lives, and motivating and equipping them to help both themselves and others.

The Pestalozzi Zambia Children’s Trust was founded in 2001 and is responsible for the Village in Zambia, the Ibex Hill part of which started in 2009

The Pestalozzi Children’s Village Society, Asia was founded in 2003 and is responsible for the Village in India, which had its first intake of children in 2004.

The Pestalozzi Children’s Trust, Malawi was founded in 2008 to support the programme in Malawi and the Malawians selected to join the Zambian Village.

Indian Village Pestalozzi World students setting out for school in the days before the village had been built and they were accommodated in hostels in the suburbs of Dehradun
Former chair of the Nepal Pestalozzi Foundation with one of its students

The Nepal Pestalozzi Foundation

Originally named PAHAD (Pestalozzi Association Helping Advance Development), the Nepal Foundation was registered in 2000.  The name PAHAD, meaning ‘hill’ in Nepalese, signified the Foundation’s mission to bring educational help to its marginalised rural communities.

Following the Thai Pestalozzi Foundation model, PAHAD, subsequently renamed the Nepal Pestalozzi Foundation, supported 56 day students in local schools throughout the country, part-funded by Pestalozzi World and part self-funded. 

The Nepal Pestalozzi Foundation does not currently sponsor students.  It now monitors the Nepal Village, Pokhara.

The Foundation Board is entirely comprised of Pestalozzi World Alumni.

The Thai Pestalozzi Foundation

The Thai Pestalozzi Foundation, registered in 1990, supports students to attend local secondary schools as day students.  It also continues its support to the end of Bachelor level education.  

To begin with, all the funds were provided by Pestalozzi World.  The numbers supported directly by the Thai Foundation gradually increased until, in 2020, the foundation became entirely self-sufficient.  Much of the credit for the success of the Thai Pestalozzi Foundation goes to the tireless voluntary work contributed by UK Village alumna Jantrawan Chongnoncee who sadly passed away in 2019.

The Thai Foundation aims to support 100 students at any one time and now has 280 graduates, 115 of them funded by Pestalozzi World and 167 by the Foundation.

Apart from the Chair, the Thai Foundation Board is entirely comprised of alumni of either the UK Village or of the Thai Pestalozzi Foundation.

Many of its alumni contribute to the costs of the Foundation.

The Foundation holds annual alumni-run summer camps for its students, ensuring that the students identify with the Foundation and learn the Pestalozzi values.
Attended by representatives from all the Pestalozzi World Organisations, the Pestalozzi World Reunion 2008, held in Switzerland in celebration of the life and legacy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi, was the first to bring members of the African and Asian Organisations together.  Here the participants are at the monument to Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi in Birr, Switzerland
2008 first reunion of US-based alumni – affording the chance for alumni of the African and Asian programmes there to meet


Since 1993 in Asia and since 2007 in Africa, large international reunions were held almost annually until 2020, with the addition of annual reunions for the US based Pestalozzi World Alumni since 2008.

These reunions enabled Alumni, volunteers, staff and trustees of the different Pestalozzi organisations to meet and:

  • Network with one another
  • Learn from each other’s experiences
  • Be inspired and motivated by each other’s work
  • Reinforce their identities as part of the Pestalozzi World family
  • Learn more about the aims of Pestalozzi World
  • Learn more about the philosophy of Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi which inspires the work of Pestalozzi World

The last of these large reunions were held at the beginning of 2020. 
The pandemic led to online reunions, the great advantage of these being the number of participants who can be reached.  More recently, physical reunions have resumed but, as it becomes easier for geographically distant participants to meet online and as Alumni numbers increase, there is a greater emphasis on small-scale local reunions which are held in any areas a number of Alumni live.

For further information on the history of Pestalozzi World, please refer to:

  • A Journey of the Heart – celebrating a decade’s work in Education in Africa and Asia 
  • Pestalozzi World – The Circle of Success 2009 
  • And for a visual overview from 2008 go to:
  • 2008 A Visual Overview of Pestalozzi World’s Projects 

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