Teach Abroad

The Top 7 Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World

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Eva Wieners
Topic Expert

Eva is a German writer and geographer, currently living in Nepal with her daughter Miriam. She has worked and volunteered in South America, Europe, and Asia for more than a decade and loves to travel.

The Top Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World
Photo by Emilie E., ARCC Programs Alum

Volunteer teaching is a great way to gain experience in teaching and getting to know a country on a very intimate level. You work with children, and while you teach them, you learn for yourself. If you love children and want to spend your time abroad doing something meaningful, volunteer teaching is a great way to do so.

Education is key to development -- there is no doubt about this. In many developing countries, the biggest problem is a lack of qualified teachers. Volunteer projects try to close this gap by making it possible for volunteers to step in and support schools in their daily routine. Volunteers can teach English or other languages, environmental education or any other subject that is needed.

Volunteer teaching is not limited to primary schools, even though many projects work with them. Kindergarten, secondary schools, and even universities use volunteer teachers to enhance the quality of their education. After school projects also need volunteer teachers, where you can support children with their homework, keep them busy and play with them in a safe environment.

When choosing a project, make sure though that volunteers are used as part of a support network and do not replace local teachers -- after all, they are needed in the long term. The projects we recommend are vetted and make sure that your contribution actually helps.

I volunteered in a school in Ecuador and helped the local staff to teach English and environmental education. I still fondly remember the field trips to the forest we organized and how excited all the kids were. I will never forget how we did arts and crafts with the kids and how talented they were. Because we took some of the workloads from the local teachers, they were able to concentrate better on their other tasks and the daily school routine became more relaxed for everyone.

We compiled a list of the best countries for volunteer teaching around the world for you, so you can find your dream project. In the following countries, your contribution as a volunteer teacher would have a huge impact as they all have very high percentages of young citizens and a lack of appropriately trained teachers to keep these young people in school.

Kenya

The Top Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World: Kenya
Photo by Helen S,. Africa & Asia Venture Alum

Kenya is a beautiful country in East Africa that is mostly known for its biodiversity and natural beauty. It is a great country for volunteer teaching as well.

In 2016, 41% of Kenya’s population was under 15 years old, one of the highest youth percentages in the entire world. To be able to educate all young people, many new schools have been built in the last years, but there is a chronic lack of teachers. As a volunteer teacher in Kenya, you can support the education sector and work with the young people of the country to combat illiteracy.

Ghana

Solutions for Life Initiative Ghana
Photo credit: Solutions for Life Initiative Ghana

Ghana’s education system has many times been described as one of the better ones in Africa. School enrollment rates have been traditionally high and with a very high urban population, many children have good access to schools.

At the same time though, disparities between the urban southern areas and the rural northern areas are high and there is a lot of work to be done to achieve gender equality in Ghana in the education sector. Volunteer teachers like you play a great role in improving the education sector in Ghana further, which makes the country one of the best for volunteering in this sector.

Malawi

The Top Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World: Malawi
Photo by Erin F., Global Routes Alum

Malawi is an overlooked country for volunteer teaching but there's plenty of work to do, as the education system in the country still needs a lot of support. While enrollment rates for the first grade have risen in the last decades, dropout rates -- particularly amongst girls -- are still very high and many children do not finish school.

As a volunteer teacher, you can support teachers in private and government schools to prepare students for their future and have a real impact on their lives.

Nepal

The Top Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World: Nepal
Photo by Dee B., The Love Company Alum

Nepal is a great country to do volunteer teaching. Formal education has only been introduced in the country since 1951. There is a chronic lack of qualified teachers and schools -- particularly in rural areas -- are understaffed. Volunteer teachers can supplement and support local teachers and help to keep students in school.

Another big problem is the high illiteracy rate amongst adults which makes it very hard for children to find help if they have trouble in school. As a volunteer teacher, you can be the solution for this and have a great impact.

Cambodia

GoEco Cambodia
Photo credit: GoEco Cambodia

Cambodia is a great country for volunteer teaching in Asia, as almost half of the population of the country is under the age of 15. Schools and teachers are in dire need of support, as the number of students is extremely high. Drop out rates, lack our resources and gender inequality are the biggest problems in the education sector in Cambodia.

While volunteer teachers alone cannot solve these problems, you can be an important part of a systemic solution. By volunteer teaching in Cambodia, you can help to enhance the quality of education and support the teachers to keep students in school.

Guatemala

The Top Countries for Volunteer Teaching Around the World: Guatemala
Photo by Alexa T., Safe Passage Alum

Guatemala draws travelers and volunteers for its fascinating historical, cultural, and environmental opportunities. But, Guatemala also has the lowest literacy rate in Central America, making it a good candidate for volunteer teaching close to home (if you're a U.S. or Canadian volunteer).

Even though it is compulsory to attend school for a minimum of six years, the average is only a little bit over four years. Particularly in rural areas, it is very difficult to find well-educated teachers, making it a country that needs the support of volunteer teachers. As a volunteer teacher, you can help to keep students in school, provide them with a quality education, and make sure they have better chances for their future.

Nicaragua

FIMRC Nicaragua
Photo credit: FIMRC Nicaragua

Affected by the conflicts of the past in Nicaragua, the education system is one of the poorest in Central America. Enrollment rates have risen, but still many students do not finish school and have to stay home to work and help in the household.

In countries like Nicaragua, the education system often sags because of inconsistent or poor enrollment, which is undercut by weak government funding. Add all of this together, and educated teachers are difficult to find. Volunteer teachers in different projects in the country have a great impact on the students and help them to reach their goals.

If you chose to volunteer abroad as a teacher, you decide to spend your time abroad supporting young populations in these countries. By helping the staff teachers with their tasks, you can make a lasting impact while gaining experiences for yourself. Volunteering as a teacher is a great way to connect a vacation to something good and meaningful and will provide you with experiences that will stay vivid in your mind forever.