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Ubongo Learn Anywhere Kits for Localized Kid-Centric Learning in Emergencies

Multimedia kit for crisis contexts with effective & localized learning videos, songs, activities & curriculum, adaptable to different tech.

Photo of Nisha Ligon
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What problem does your innovation solve?

The UN estimates that 25 million children are missing out on school in areas of conflict and crisis. Yet education is not something that can be paused then resumed when situations settle. Early childhood and early adolescence are periods of extensive brain development, and the learning that occurs in these years sets a person's trajectory for life. In conflict and displacement situations where formal schooling is not possible, or of low quality, we need rapidly deployable informal learning.

Explain your innovation.

Ubongo’s innovation is a multimedia learning kit with localized and effective content, which can be used to facilitate learnings clubs for children in emergencies. The kits contains video, audio and text content including Ubongo’s popular edutainment programs currently watched in over 5.1 million households in East Africa, as well as a facilitator’s guide and activities for club leaders to engage kids in active learning. Ubongo’s preschool edu-cartoon Akili and Me helps 3-5 year olds learn numeracy, pre-literacy, socio-emotional skills and English as a second language, shown to have a 12% effect on kids' school readiness in just one month of viewing. Ubongo Kids teaches STEM subjects and life skills through fun stories and songs, and kids who watch it show immediate direct learning outcomes in the subjects taught. These multiplatform learning programs include over 1690 minutes of video content, 580 minutes of educational audio and songs and 36 eBooks, with content in Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, English and French, as well as easy adaptation packages to quickly develop versions in new languages. We will first implement with children in Nyaragusu refugee camp, working with the community to form locally managed kids’ clubs that use our content both at existing sites with screening tech (like video bandas that show football matches) and in new sites with low-cost battery powered projectors. This low cost model can be sustained through community partnerships & sponsorship.

Who benefits?

We will bring educational content to almost 30,000 refugee children aged 3-15 by implementing our innovative screening clubs in the Nyaragusu refugee camp in Tanzania. These children come mostly from Burundi and the DRC, or are born in the camps to refugee parents, who mostly speak Kiswahili and Kirundi. In addition to being educational effective, our content is designed to shift gender norms, promote gender equality to audiences of both girls and boys. Our facilitator kits are linguistically adaptable and mobile, so through partnerships, a larger number of refugee children to benefit from the localized and effective learning content. In order to test the benefit of our screening clubs we will do baseline, mid-term and endline testing. Testing will include standardized assessments of literacy, numeracy and life skills, as well as focus groups.

How is your innovation unique?

Our focus is on creating the best and most effective content, which is locally relevant to kids and can help them learn, then leverage their learning to change their lives. We employ a human centered design process to create content, testing it throughout the process to ensure it is educationally effective-- and we design for scalability and adaptability to different languages and technology platforms. Our edutainment clubs have already been implemented and tested in non-electrified villages in Morogoro, reaching thousands of kids, and are broadcasting on TV and radio to over 5 million. We will adapt our kit to meet the needs of children in Nyaragusu camp, and develop a model for adaptation to other emergency situations. Most other programs edu-media focus on provision of hardware such as computers or tablets, and using open educational resources that aren't localized. We flip that model, providing localized content that can be used on any tech- from radio and TV to tablets.

What are some of your unanswered questions about the idea?

One of the key questions that we are still working to answer is how to create localized content for a multilingual population. We currently have bilingual content, but in emergencies, children speaking many different languages often need to be taught together. Another question we have relates to how we can develop content that inspires children to continue learning as they play outside of the classroom or our screening clubs? We want the learning that happens through our edutainment to be a spark for continued active group and self learning through, and we will test ways of modeling and instigating these learning behaviors through our edutainment content.

Tell us more about you.

Ubongo is a non-profit social enterprise based in Tanzania that produces edutainment for kids in Africa. One of Fast Company's 10 most innovative companies in Africa 2015, we're a diverse group of creatives, educators, techies and business people passionate about bringing kids in Africa a fun and more effective new way to learn. Core team members include Nisha Ligon (CEO - product dev, educational media), Doreen Kessy (social business), Christina Bwana (production) and Rajab Semtawa (animation).

What is the primary type of emergency setting where your innovation would operate?

  • Natural disaster
  • Prolonged displacement

Emergency Setting - Elaborate

Our primary implementation setting will be prolonged displacement, where large numbers of children are together missing out on critical educational opportunities. We also want to make our screening kits so easily accessible and adaptable that they can be quickly used in other emergency settings. Working with first responders who will help us best understand how the clubs can help bring educational material to children who are living in other emergency situations.

Where will your innovation be implemented?

We will first implement in Nyaragusu camp in Western Tanzania. As of June 2017, Nyaragusu has 134,696 refugees. (UNHCR, 2017). It was opened in 1996 to host people fleeing from Burundi and DRC, as well as some refugees from Somalia. Our screening kits will be highly adaptable to be used in various emergency settings. The kits can be used to get localized content for larger educational or edtech projects or they can be implemented by the local community themselves, as in our Morogoro project.

Experience in Implementation Country(ies)

  • Yes, for more than one year.

In-country Networks

Ubongo is Tanzania based, with a strong brand and network in country. Our adaptable content is already distributed on TV in 27 African countries, as well as through mobile network operators including Tigo and Vodacom. We have partnered with USAID and HDIF and are in contact with local teams from UNHCR, IRC, and other organizations working on the ground in refugee camps. Our strong local network provides us with broad insight as well as partnerships for scaling to reach more children in need.

Sector Expertise

  • I've worked in a sector related to my innovation for less than a year.

Sector Expertise - Elaborate

We are Africa's leading edutainment company, and our educational media programs on TV, radio and mobile are used across the continent, including by partners working in emergency situations. We are based in Tanzania, with partners across the continent. With this background and expertise, we are well poised to take the next step to adapt our innovations for large scale use in emergency situations, and apply our human centered design process to ensuring we create solutions that work for kids.

Innovation Maturity

  • Existing Prototype or Pilot: I have tested a part of my solution with users and am iterating.

Organization Status

  • We are a registered non-profit, charity, NGO, or community-based organization.

Organization Location

We are a non-profit social enterprise registered in Tanzania, with main office in Dar es Salaam. We also have USA registered 501(c)3 non-profit entity


How has your Idea changed based on feedback?

In response to feedback, we are planning to produce additional content specifically for children in emergency settings. This would address problems that these children face, , such as; healthy living in their specific environment, developing critical socio-emotional skills to cope with the stress of living in conflict or displacement, and helping develop resilience. We will partner with local community members to co-create this content, and build adaptable modules from it.

Who will implement this Idea?

Ubongo will undertake the creation and development of the kits with co-creation in refugee camps, with a pilot implementation. For scale up, we will provide kits to on-the-ground organizations such as UNHCR and IRC, as well as local grassroots organizations for implementation with children. Ubongo has 26 full time staff located in Tanzania who will be creating content to be used in kits, while 2 staff members will work on HCD and co-creation in refugee camps and emergency situations… as well as ensuring that kits meet the needs of on-the-ground partners utilizing them in their programs.

What challenges do your end-users face? (1) What is the biggest challenge that your end-users face on a day-to-day, individual level? (2) What is the biggest systems-level challenge that affects your end-users?

Though every emergency situation is different, most greatly disrupt a child’s education. Any missing gap in education can be very detrimental for a child’s development. One of the biggest challenges that children in Nyarugusu refugee camp are facing is a lack of education infrastructure, including buildings, teachers and resources. Additionally, even when public education is available to children living in refugee camps or emergencies, the quality of these educational programs are poor as resources, such as teachers, books and classrooms, are limited. The biggest systems-level challenge is the lack of a system to deliver quality education in emergency situations... because every situation is different! It is critical to have quickly adaptable systems to fill gaps for kids in need!

How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?

Through co-production funding, we work with companies and organizations who want to reach our audience and viewers with important messages. These have included Malaria No More (teaching kids to use bednets and go to the doctor if they have a fever), the UN (promoting children’s rights), the EU (teaching about clean energy) and private banks (teaching financial literacy skills). We also have a freemium model where we sell premium products (apps, DVDs, merchandise) to middle class customers in order to fun production of free content for our mass media and screening clubs audience.

Tell us about your vision for this project: (1) share one sentence about the impact that you would like to see from this project in five years and (2) what is the biggest question/hurdle you need to address to get there?

IMPACT: Ubongo’s long term goal is to provide fun, localized edutainment for all kids in Africa, to help them learn and leverage their learning to change their lives. This includes the more than 500,000 of children who are displaced or in camps. So, In the next 5 years - we would like to be the key resource for providing educational content for emergency situations in Africa. QUESTION: How do we adapt content to languages and contexts throughout the continent at low cost and massive scale?

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) outcomes for this project?

We use a experimental and longitudinal studies to evaluate the learning performance of children attending our screening clubs on a baseline, midline and endline basis. We have conducted a randomized control trial of content in schools and a quasi-experimental trial with rural screening clubs in Tanzania, and we will apply these methods to assess the effectiveness of kits in Nyaragusu camp. Our Senior Research advisor is Prof. Dina Borzekowski, a world leader in children's media research.

What is the timeline for your project Idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

We hope to carry out a beta implementation in Nyarugusu and test kits out to partners in English, French and Kiswahili throughout 2018. Once we learn from this initial implementation on how to best scale up our kits and reach, we plan to scale up the project during 2019 and 2020. Scaling up means undertaking more language adaptations, creating additional content for children living in refugee situations, and possibly creating an online portal for partners to access and adapt our content.

My organization's operational budget for 2016 was:

  • Between $500,000 and $1,000,000 USD

How many of your team’s paid, full-time staff are currently based in the location where the beneficiaries of your proposed Idea live?

  • Between 20-50 paid, full-time staff

Is your organization registered in the country that you intend to implement your Idea in?

  • We are registered in all countries where we plan to implement.

How long have you and your colleagues been working on this Idea together?

  • Between 1 and 2 years

What do you need the most support with for your innovation?

  • Business Development / Partnerships Support
  • Other Technical Expertise


Join the conversation:

Photo of mahendar cherry

run 3 game burns your calories, but how? You are running in the game, not in real life so don’t think that the running burns the calories

Photo of Chenyang Zhang

It is really nice of you to raise the awareness to such case, it is important for all of us to do something which might have an influence on someone else.

Photo of Siyu Ding

I like it

Photo of Alessandra Punzo

Hello Nisha Ligon 
I really find your idea inspiring because these kids with no access to education will be our future. They cannot be left on their own fate. Further, I believe that it is important to keep them busy with learning activities during the day. This would reduce the possibility to become victim of abuses. Because the probability of getting pregnant at an early age is high in poor countries, I would also suggest a special focus on sexual education for girls. If the project is successful, you should also consider the possibility to implement it in other countries as well (India for example). Good luck with your idea.

Photo of Camille DANIEL-LACOMBE

Nisha Ligon Congratulations ! I really find this inspiring and It s been a while that I did not read a well-thought project. Education is primordial for every children and all around the world. That will lead to faced a lot of additional issues : hunger, violence, war .... and it is important to give the same education to everybody. You should also think to implement your project in other countries because I m sure it will be successful, as in India for example.

However, are not you afraid that this transmission of knowledge via technology take over the transmission via a class, a speaker? how do you envisage the limits of the project if it has a lot of success? How do you limit it to emergency situation?

Photo of Rasal Lia

Thanks for your idea of 'rapidly deployable informal learning'. This could be a good example for who are thinking of education in Rohingya refugee community at Chittagong. Would you please let us know what possible roles the local educators can perform in your system? It is because of the acceptability of the implementing body and of the system by the aliens-refugees. How could the existing educators in that refugee community be incorporated with your proposed system?
Thank you

Photo of Larissa Escobar

As our world is today, tools and initiatives like Ubongo should be priority number one for our leaders and communities. These generations of kids, that today have no access to education, will be our future and can't be left on their own fate. Wonderful initiative, wonderful work, I really hope Ubongo will receive the human and economic support it deserves to be able to reach as many boys and girls in need as possible. Congratulations!

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thank you Larissa Escobar - one of the most critical factors for our scale up success is getting community buy in. We have a very strong focus on working with community leaders and local organizations that are already on the ground, to make sure that they take ownership and accountable for their clubs! Thanks for your support!

Photo of August Solliv

I really find this inspiring! We should all applaud such a beautiful and well-thought project. It is important to give help where it is needed when the rest of us live in such a privileged world. What is especially amazing with this project is that it is already perfectly planned and really helping with a problem in the Tanzanian population. The drawing work is also awesome! I hope you win guys!

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks August!!

Photo of Ofir Zukovsky

@Nisha @Ubongo Thank you for sharing your idea and it was interesting to read through.
So is the solution ready for deployment ? what grade levels does it cover ?, do you propose separate content for different age levels ? Do you use and create your own content ? What is the teacher's role in such setting ?

Good luck and thanks for your great ideas

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Hello Ofir,

The solution is ready for initial deployment, and it was just tested in Nyaragusu Refugee camp last week. However, our goal is to continue growing the content available within the kits, as well as documentation/ facilitator guide materials as we deploy.

The grade levels currently targeted are pre-primary - class 5 (Tanzania/ Kenya/ Rwanda curriculum). We create all of our own content, and currently have content divided into two broader age groups: 3-6 and 7-13.

A teacher's role is to select content which complements what he or she is teacher, and use the content as either an introduction or reinforcement. The teacher can then follow activity guides for activities to do with students around the content, or (as some of the teachers we currently work with do) to develop his or her own activities based upon what the kids have watched. We are currently working on best practice videos for teachers (and community teaching assistants without formal teacher training) to help them with this style of blended learning.



Photo of Rebecca Petras

Your initiative is a very interesting one and is crucial for providing quality education for numbers of children.

I am the Deputy Director in Translators without Borders (TWB); a U.S. non-profit organization that aims to close the language gaps that hinder critical humanitarian efforts worldwide. We recognize that the effectiveness of any aid program depends on delivering information in the language of the affected population. By maintaining a global network of professional translators, we help non-profit organizations overcome communication barriers, increasing access to critical information and services while fostering a climate of understanding, respect and dignity in times of great need. We invite you to learn more about our work through this link. Translators without Borders is a non-profit organization supported entirely through our volunteers, grant funders and generous donors and sponsors.

TWB’s current translation capabilities exceed more than 190 language pairs with over 20000 translators. So far we have translated over 45 million words as part of humanitarian crisis response, and health and education services. We have also provided basic translator training to over 250 trainees in our translator training centre.

Since 2010, Translators without Borders (TWB) has played a crucial role within the humanitarian and development sectors leading on localization and translation of complex and lifesaving information into more than 190 languages, especially for populations in crisis. TWB has contributed to building the capacity of local translators in different parts of the world including in Kenya, Guinea and Greece.

Translators without Borders is expanding its program to support Mother Tongue Education programs. We want to work in collaboration with education providers to overcome the language barriers to mother-tongue education. TWB has the expertise and to:

Translate and adapte educational materials in local language, including training translators in local languages
Support Ministries and education providers to develop materials to support teachers in teaching in mother-tongue languages

We believe that our expertise around language and localization when coupled with your expertise and efforts in Education will expand the outreach to marginalized populations unable to benefit from quality education opportunities. It would be our pleasure to connect with you and learn more from you on your ongoing projects and discuss possible ways of cooperation together.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Hi Rebecca Petras ! Thanks for your note, and I apologize for the slow reply. We would love to explore a collaboration. One of our big focuses now is adaptation to new languages, and it would be very exciting to be able to work with Translators Without Borders on this!

Let's set up a call sometime soon to discuss!

Photo of Sadam Matsawili

Hi Nisha!

Your idea is very interesting. I know you, and the efforts your team has been making to improve mathematical and science learning outcomes for Tanzania kids, especially through TBC.

I wish you all best with this very idea towards serving girls in emergency areas. I won't be surprised to see you among the Winners tommorow.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks for your support Sadam Matsawili !

Photo of Vanessa Sore

Hi Nisha,

Great idea which is extremely practical and wide-reaching to a number of children.
How have the children embraced this idea so far? Is it challenging to maintain their interest and focus with a tv (and no teacher) especially considering this is projected at children in areas of conflict and crisis?
Also, have you given any thought to how you will continue to scale your idea without effective partnerships or sites without screening tech? ie. will your business model include other types of public or global fundraising?

Vanessa S

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Hi Vanessa,

Thanks for your questions. So far we are reaching about 6.4 million households weekly through TV and radio in East Africa, and about 200,000 more vulnerable children through partners utilizing our content and/or hosting screening clubs.

Interest and focus has not generally been an issue, so long as content is curated well... and ideally it should be interspersed with meaningful play and learning activities. For the kit, we're creating a facilitator's guide with ideas for these activities and how to prompt/ lead them.

As for focus on the content, we use an engagement tracking methodology developed by Blue's Clues to test our episodes and ensure that's we're keeping high engagement throughout them. Episodes are designed to have peaks and troughs of energy, with kids up and singing for 3 minutes, followed by 3 minutes of calm story time, etc.

At the moment, we have a hybrid business model wherein we receive grant funding and also generate commercial revenue. We have applied for additional grants for the screening clubs project, but addition to funding, the key to scaling it will be partnerships with on the ground and community organizations who will be doing the implementation. For sites without screening tech, we're focusing on audio and interactive radio instruction content.

Our commercial revenue comes through sales of DVDs, T-Shirts and premium digital products (music albums, video downloads, eBooks and apps), as well as co-production partnerships with organizations hoping to reach our large audience with important messages. Our goal is to increase this revenue to be fully self sustaining by 2021.

I hope that helps anser your questions.



Photo of lbhitchcock .

What an innovative idea! Your work has such significant impacts for Tanzania at the local level now and the global level in the future. It is interesting to think of how your work could impact all third world countries! I wish you success in your endeavors.

Photo of Dave Hughes

Hi Nisha, this is a great idea! My name is David Hughes and I am the Project Director for the Bendigo Inventor Awards.

Now in our 7th year, the Bendigo Inventor awards have as our focus inventions that address needs in the Emergency Services and Disaster Management space, and we offer a AUD$10,000 prize for the winning entry. The Bendigo Inventor Awards has also created an environment for inventors to obtain support for their ideas by bringing together a coalition of partners with the knowledge, skills and networks to accelerate the progression of ideas from concept through to commercialisation. Major Program Partners include Engineers Australia who are providing technical feedback, KPMG who are offering advice on commercial viability and the path to commercialisation and Red Cross, who are providing their perspective on the relevance of many inventions to disaster relief efforts. Our judging panel also contains representatives from Emergency Management Victoria, who are able to provide similar feedback on the applicability of inventions to the emergency services.

I believe your idea would be a fantastic entry into the awards. Applying is easy and can be done through our website Simply select the category that your invention applies to – ‘Concept’ or ‘Product and Prototype’, and answer some questions about your invention. All judges are required to sign a non-disclosure agreement, so your idea is protected. Entries close 5pm Friday 29th September 2017 AEST.

I very much look forward to seeing your invention go on to great success, and hope we are able to assist you in enabling that to happen. If you have any questions at all, please do not hesitate to get in touch on the phone number above, or via my email at

David Hughes
Project Director
Bendigo Inventor Awards

Photo of Aaron Ligon

My sister Nisha and the team at Ubongo bring a unique set of skills and resources to solving the problem of educating children affected by emergencies. This challenge also aligns directly with Ubongo's mission to provide fun edutainment to children to improve their lives. Their passion for education and determination to in delivering it to millions of children across Africa today uniquely positions them for impact here. Some of the key differences that set them apart are:

1) They bring extensive experience in a user centered approach to producing educational content and effectively delivering it at scale through communication mediums (TV, radio, DVDs, USB stick, paper and more) that are available to the even the least fortunate children.

2) They have rigorously measured their impact in partnership with childhood education researchers. This has clearly demonstrated the effectiveness of the Ubongo approach in driving quantifiable improvements in children's educational outcomes.

3) Their approach is scalable and cost effective allowing it to deliver these proven educational outcomes at the scale of 10s of millions of children with a small team and budget.

With an experienced team in place and the resources to execute on this plan, Ubongo is positioned to be a highly impactful organization in delivering improved educational outcomes to children in emergencies today.

Photo of Salim A. Hassan

yah,its true that ubongo contents creates great support for the kids in there ways to educates

Photo of Rasheed Rajab

Its great show for the kids makes them improve in their studies,self confidence and social
emotion!My childrens admire the show..

Photo of Eddie Abdul

As an animator working for Ubongo, I have experienced it with how the show has been helping kids in Tanzania and mostly near where i live.
I have been getting loads of feedback from parents and myself being a witness from family members whose kids been inspired to learn more from watching Akili and Ubongo kids.
I support Ubongo not just of the fact that i work there, but its more because i believe that Ubongo will add more value and improve education to millions of kids in need, and not only to those who are displaced but worldwide.

Photo of Piyanee Narinsuksunti


Photo of Mariam Mlangwa

My Malaika is only one and a half years old and she can count and singing ABC because of Ubongo content...

Photo of Iman I-l

The Ubongo Kids TV show provides kids in Tanzania, and across Africa with fun yet educational content that helps them learn deeper and develop a life-long love of learning. I have several nieces and nephews who watch the show, and I can see the positive effect it has on them. I totally believe that they will also add value to kids in refugees.

Photo of Beatriz Hernandez de Fuhr

Ubongo is a brilliant idea! Most emergency programs tend to underestimate the complexities of child development. I understand their focus on health and nutrition but language and math acquisition and socio-emotional stimulation are equally critical. I wish there was a version of Ubongo available to the many children living in poverty in Latin America.

Photo of clash

I am searching for the msp hack tool then i visit which had online moviestarplanet diamonds generator.

Photo of Nicolas Sanchez

A practical idea that can transform a child's life for the better. Excited to hear about your success!

Photo of Sophia Sanchez

It's truly inspiring to read about Ubongo's potential impact. Ubongo's way of educating will allow kids to enjoy learning both inside and outside the classroom - this is needed all around the world, but it is critical for children who until now have no access to any form of education. I truly hope Ubongo will receive all the support it needs; they deserve it! They have my support all the way. Thank you for motivating kids in need, and me as well!

Photo of Alejandro Sanchez

Edutainment and inspiring children to continue learning beyond the classroom is something that is needed even beyond emergency situations. It is incredibly motivating to see that Ubongo is not only seriously and programmatically taking up this challenge, but that is also implementing where it is most needed. Thank you!

Photo of Plaify Parama

Ubongo is leading the development especially in in East African countries and other countries around the world. I totally support this project and want to see all kids in the world get access to quality education and improvement in literacy.

Photo of Josh

I'm really looking forward to Ubongo Learning filling the gap that no NGO or government has been able to address. Refugee camps are holding cells for human potential, and children living in them are often robbed of a rich, educational childhood. If Ubongo can provide quality edutainment for the most vulnerable little ones in East Africa, we all owe them our deep support.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks @josh we'd love to get your input on content for these situations, given your extensive experience in rural education!

Photo of Sherman Curl

Ubongo appears to be an innovative and a relatively inexpensive vehicle to assist in the initiation or continuation of learning for displaced children. It's potential reach is impressive and the motivation of it's staff is encouraging to all of us concerned about the life chances of displaced children worldwide.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks Sherman Curl - We'd love to hear what types of new content you think would be important to add for displaced children.

Photo of Leo Sanchez

making a dent in the universe :)

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks @Leo!

Photo of Nattapapat Pornrasaminon

Ubongo will be very helpful for children not only in Africa but around the world. It is such a great project.

Photo of Pia Mishra

Ubongo is a fantastic learning platform for children in Africa. The show promotes capable female characters as well which I think is critical to a young girl's development.

I have seen myself how excited kids get when Ubongo Kids or Akili and Me is mentioned. I am excited to see what the team is able to accomplish next!

Photo of Arthit

As an animator who has done volunteer work for Ubongo, I just LOVE how well thoughtout all the teaching concepts are. Once a kid has watched something from Ubongo kids and Akilil, she will truly understand and OWN the lesson. GIRLS are very prominent in these cartoons.

Photo of Piyanee Narinsuksunti

So good ka

Photo of Becky Carter

Helping kids through catchy songs, fun cartoons and interactive and engaging content? Genius

Photo of Nicole Griffin

Ubongo solves an educational crisis through inviting children to learn in a world of play! Very innovative and will help millions of children in Sub-Saharan Africa!

Photo of Lissett Babaian

Ubongo delivers effective and FUN education and makes it accessible! I love ubongo!

Photo of bart

Education is always important to us all, but not everyone has a chance to. Ubongo is making a big change, bringing education + entertainment + technology to where it is needed.

Ubongo! For the better world!

Photo of McDavis Ansere

Ubongo has risen to meet the need for so many children in surrounding communities and farther more into a wide range of countries. There seems to no limit to what Ubongo could achieve in the future.

Photo of Supat Jumbala

This will be useful to children in disadvantaged communities anywhere, and not only to refugee children. Examples: slum children in the world's major cities, and children in areas of natural disaster (such as Haiti). Very thoughtful.

Photo of Ploy Phukkanasut

As a previous volunteer at Ubongo, I was so impressed by how dedicated the Ubongo Team is. They do EVERYTHING for the kids. That is why they have extended their work to benefit the refugee kids. Go Ubongo!

Photo of Aoey Jotikasthira

As someone who has followed the progress of Ubongo from its inception when it was just Nisha and a few friends, I am amazed at how far Ubongo has come and accomplished already. When this team puts its mind to any project, rest assured that it would have been throughly researched, tested and iterated. Anything Ubongo does they put more than 100% of their heart and soul into it!

Photo of sebastian casalotti

This innovative content is sure to help plug the hugely detrimental gaps carved in displaced children's education. Having tutored many child refugees in the Uk, I have experienced how many young people, particularily those who have spent protracted periods in refugee camps, have huge difficulties with their learning in later childhood or early adulthood oweing to key fundamentals being missed when younger. This often led to frustration for refugee children even when in schools and colleges in the Uk (a comparativrly fortunate position compared to many other child refugees), as the schools did not have the capacity or quality to identify these gaps, leaving children feeling further alienated and pressured.
Innovation that seeks to combat the effect of displacement robbing young people of their childhood and developement in a cost effective way is a huge tick in my book!

Photo of Stefano Casalotti

I am a University Lecturer, and I have taught many students that have come to London, UK as refugees from countries with unequal education provisions. Invariably, these students describe how appreciative they are of the teachers that guided them and thankful to their parents for supporting them through education when they were young. They know, and we all know that if you miss that early opportunity for education your chances of ever catching up are extremely small. The Ubongo approach of reaching children at such a vulnerable time is very innovative because it uses technology just to the right level so that it can be used in such circumstances and most importantly it uses local knowledge to determine what is best to teach those children. The content of what is taught is to a large extent only a mean of developing learning skills, but if the content is not appropriate, the learner cannot engage. I am very impressed how Ubongo has been able to implement these important pedagogical principles in such an innovative way and this new project to reach children in emergency situations is at par to ensuring they have food and shelter.

Photo of Thanyarasama Sathienrach

As a dubber of Ubongo's content into Thai, I can imagine how Ubongo Kids and Akili and Me would have a great impact on refugee children. Their sticky stories and uplifting catchy songs would be great for kids' brain development and poor social emotional state due to living in such dire conditions. Ubongo's focus on using lo-tech methods are perfectly suitable for displaced populations. Ubongo is all about making suitable localised CONTENT and not about pie in the sky hardware that cannot be adapted to or withstand the harsh environment of refugee camps.

Photo of golf

LOVE this content and really hope UBONGO is finalist. Am convinced that this project can scale to diverse refugee populations...Africa, Asia, Middle East...and all parts of the world.

Photo of paweena

My 2 year old loves listening to the songs from Akili and me on youtube. She has picked up on numbers and letters very quickly. We live in Thailand. The content it not suitable for Africa but for kids anywhere in the world.

Photo of Jenny

Ubongo’s proposal to provide educational kits for children in emergency situations will be impactful. This team has the drive and operational experience to make products that work and scale it. They are using educational content they have developed, tested, and deployed in their East African communities. Impressed that they have content in Kiswahili, Kinyarwanda, English and French, as well as a plan to develop versions in new languages. Looking forward to following Ubongo’s work in this space!

Photo of Diana Huey

The lovely, creative ideas and solid educational knowledge involved in creating UbongoKids and Alkili, combined with continued hard work and use of available technology will continue to make a huge difference in the lives of the targeted population. These children, their families, and communities will reap incredible benefits, as will those providing this wonderful program.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thank you Diana Huey !

Photo of OpenIDEO

Hi Nisha and Team!

We’re excited to share feedback and questions from our experts with you. We encourage you to think about this feedback as you continue to improve and refine your Idea. You are welcome to respond in the comments section and/or to incorporate feedback into the text of your Idea. Your idea and all associated comments will all be reviewed during the final review process.

Based on your knowledge and experience, is this a new approach or bold way of answering the challenge question?

One expert shared, “Yes, proven content and delivery system, can be applied to refugee and emergency contexts.”

“This sort of professional, diverse (in language, across platforms, etc.) and localised edutainment content is, to my knowledge, new in the East African context. Tailoring it for the needs and demands of emergency situations could represent a real opportunity, but would need a much better understanding of their intent.”

Is this idea human-centered?
“Ubongo scores high on desirability and feasibility, as their content is clearly already popular and and widely distributed/viewed (and across multiple devices/platforms). The question of how viable this content is for modification for appropriate use in emergencies/displacement situations is still an open one. It's hard to tell from this application if the effort to adapt and extend current offerings for emergency contexts is a critical, core activity for Ubongo?”

Expert’s thoughts on your business model:
Yes, but would need more information to truly assess.

Final thoughts and questions:
1) What was the origin of seeking to expand your offerings to serve populations in emergency situations?
2a) Do you see any significant ways that your content and/or approach might need to be tweaked to serve these populations? 2b) How do you intend to find out through local piloting/an iterative testing process?
3) Are you prepared to significantly alter your Ubongo Kids Club teaching/learning approach if you find that different delivery methods better meet the needs of kids in emergencies?

In case you missed it, check out this Storytelling Toolkit for inspiration for crafting strong and compelling stories: Storytelling is an incredibly useful tool to articulate an idea and make it come to life for those reading it. Don’t forget - August 6 at 11:59PM PST is your last day to make changes to your idea on the OpenIDEO platform.

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Looking forward to reading more and thank you for the important work you are doing!

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Hello Team OpenIDEO,

Thank you for your constructive feedback, as we work to refine and improve our idea. Please find below responses to your questions:

1) What was the origin of seeking to expand your offerings to serve populations in emergency situations?
Our mission is to transform education for kids across Africa through fun, localized edutainment. Millions of children in Africa live in emergency situations, and reaching them is critical to achieving our vision as an organization, and helping the most vulnerable children. Our content currently broadcasts to millions of children in Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda. These countries host some of the largest refugee populations in the world, and a key next step for us is to find creative ways to serve these populations, bringing them the same benefits as those in more stable situations. Many neighboring countries like Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi and South Sudan have millions of children missing out on quality education due to conflict. We hope that our solution can help fill the gap for them, and bring them a fun and transformative new way to learn.

We’ve also had strong demand from from organizations working in emergency situations for our localized educational content. Considering this need, we decided to create a kit that brings our content to children living in emergency situations, as a supplement or replacement to the strained educational systems in refugee camps.

2a) Do you see any significant ways that your content and/or approach might need to be tweaked to serve these populations?
Ubongo’ kits are adaptable, even though our core Ubongo content is the foundation. We acknowledge that additional content should be added as needed from one emergency situation to another. Though we are currently working on socio-emotional learning content, we are open to creating additional content that can help refugee children cope with their unique living situations. We are also aware that we may not be the best people to create all modular content that educates children in emergency situations and that additional segments will need to be filmed locally.

2b) How do you intend to find out through local piloting/an iterative testing process?
At Ubongo, human centered design is involved during several stages of the production process to ensure that kids are engaged in the episodes and that the educational aspect is truly effective. We test our content with local children in Dar es Salaam constantly and to ensure that this is equally effective in Nyarugusu, we will test our existing content with children living there to determine what additional content is needed specifically for children living in emergency situations.

3) Are you prepared to significantly alter your Ubongo Kids Club teaching/learning approach if you find that different delivery methods better meet the needs of kids in emergencies?
We are aware that our existing educational content is limited in its scope, and that is why we have designed our programs in a modular way so that they can be adapted for many uses. It is important to us that we can deliver our educational content to children in various settings, over several different platforms, and will work with partners who work in emergency settings to find the best way to deliver our screening clubs.

With thanks,
Team Ubongo

Photo of stephanie ludwig

Dear Ubongo Team,

we really like your idea and we also see a lot of parallels with our approach (we provide visual content through various technologies incl. projections and AR) to children in emergencies. Check us out in the link below :) Seems like you have already established yourself and look to grow more. We would love to learn from you from this perspective.
Watching your video, we observe you are mainly using digital content the kids can watch and learn from. From our early user tests, we realized, that users of all ages (not only children) really appreciate to engage interactively. This made us revise our approach and focus more on integrating sensors, so that users can more directly interact with digital content and thereby create content themselves as well. Therefore, have you tried to increase the kids participation before? Maybe this could be interesting for your approach too. Let us know how it goes.
Cheers, Cyrcus Collective

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thank you stephanie ludwig we have found the same thing in our prototyping, and while we haven't yet gotten as far as sensors (we'd love to hear more about that work!), we've been working hard to incorporate interactivity and engagement. This goes from direct callouts to viewers to answer questions or follow physical cues like this - as well as videos and guided activities that kids can play together to continue learning after our screenings and sessions. We'd love to connect and see if there is a way to collaborate to add more interactivity!

Photo of Grant

Ubongo's edutainment model with screening clubs, facilitator kits and more seems ideal for scaling up in a wide variety of low resource contexts, especially refugee camps (requiring customizable deployment). Their relative lack of dependence on costly hardware needing major investment and maintenance, flexibility and other factors imply a sustainable programmatic approach, which could be one of their main advantages. Looking forward to seeing how their infrastructure-lite model succeeds in this most challenging of circumstances!

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks @Grant! We're also excited to see how our kits can be used in different circumstances and are working hard to make sure that our content and resources are as adaptable and technology agnostic as possible. We strongly believe that kids deserve fun, student-centric learning, and we need to find the most creative possible ways to get it to them. The key will be having the right partners in each deployment or local community who can facilitate the experience and adapt it to kids' needs!

Photo of Ann Dye

A superb idea with real world traction that will impact generations of Africans. Education is the best investment for our global future; the need is great in Africa, but the returns are even greater.

Photo of Regina Ligon

As an educator working with a high poverty, high mobility rate elementary-aged population, I can see the huge impact UbongoKids and Akili will have on displaced children across the globe. In the first six years of life, brain stimulation is vital, forming the basis of all future learning and intellectual ability. Providing this educational opportunity on existing regionally available technologies is brilliant -- a NOW solution to a critical global issue.

Photo of Austin Ligon

UbongoKids and Akili are fantastic ways to bring educational support and enhancement to kids in rural areas of Africa who have the fewest resources, and are most in need. Using the technology available to do this at low cost is simply great.... and the Ubongo Clubs are a great way to get kids and their parents INVOLVED in their own education.... probably the biggest step forward of all ! Great job !

Photo of Lara Casalotti

This is such a fantastic idea to bring 'Ubongo Kids' and Akili to emergency settings. Refugee populations living in camps are stuck in a limbo where they cannot return home nor can they fully integrate in the host country and access services. Ensuring children in refugee camps have high quality , innovative and inspiring education is vital so that they can develop to their full potential despite their conditions. Ubongo learn anywhere kits are an insightful innovation that can ensure that young children growing up in refugee camps can learn and develop with the hope that one day they can return to their home countries to rebuild their communities and pursue productive and meaningful lives.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks @lara! Given your experience working with refugees, we'd love your ideas and input on how to refine this idea and ensure it's usability and effectiveness!

Photo of Pan Lamsam

It is so important for refugee children to learn english so Ubongo's English cartoons will be so great also.

Photo of Pan Lamsam

As a long time volunteer for Ubongo, I cannot say enough about how amazing the team at Ubongo is. They will go to any length to get the product absolutely right and suitable for the kids. The research, the testing and the iteration that they do, continuously boggle my mind! No problem is too hard for Ubongoers to solve. The team has gotten increasingly strong and more capable in all facets of the company. I am sure they will crack this problem by creating and adapting their materials in a most effective way. Their Ubongo kids club prototype lends itself very fittingly to emergency settings. I am 100 percent confident that Ubongo's idea will work!!!

Photo of Mbega Ngata Ramadhani

fabulous idea!

Photo of Bob

Necessary and important. Kids needs boosts like this around the world. And the product appears to be scalable, after allowances for language localization and maybe some cultural adaptation for each population.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thanks @Bob! Scalability is exactly what we're designing for. We've already adapted to content to 4 languages, and we're starting our first adaptation for outside of Sub-Saharan Africa to test how this works across cultures! We'll keep you updated, and would appreciate any other ideas or insights you might have! Karibu Tanzania!

Photo of Cecile Ablack

Congrats to Nisha and the UbongoKids team and to OpenIDEO for recognizing that when children have access to education, we not only change their lives -- we change our world too.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thank you @Cecile! We'll definitely be reaching out for your help with how to market this and make sure we get the widest possible reach!

Photo of Nathalie Huynh

Amazing idea! Excited to see where you take this.

Photo of Nisha Ligon

Thank you @nathalie!

Photo of Nina Ligon

Love this concept and really hope to see it in action. I appreciate how Ubongo is leveraging their proven, localized content library and finding ways to scale it to more populations. The concept of local communities leveraging these kits to start their own learning clubs is incredibly empowering and compelling.

Photo of Berkley Rothmeier

What a fantastic project! Very much hope to see this come to fruition.

Photo of AMark TheMat

Brilliant idea. Creative and absolutely necessary

Photo of Rujiraporn Wanglee

Not only kids in Africa that enjoy Ubongo, I too enjoy it....��

Photo of Dir Erick II

@erick, Ubongo your the best

Photo of lauren muffen

Awesome work Ubongo Team!

Photo of Yichen Feng

This is really cool - and so important!

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Nisha, thanks for contributing to the Challenge! Would love to learn a little more about what additional partnerships you might need to be successful creating and distributing your education kits? Also what have you learned from your early prototyping and testing that you hope to bring forward?

Looking forward to learning more!