Imminent Opportunity for Africa-Wide Impact
Seven billion young people will enroll in secondary school in Africa by the end of this century— by then up to 480 million students will be in secondary school each year. That’s more people than will live in the entire United States. Africa’s population will have grown from 1 billion to 4 billion, and 50% of the world’s children will be African. But education systems across Africa deliver a broken promise – students spend years in schools that don’t teach them the skills they need to find employment or to make a decent living. For the families who have invested so much to put their children through school and improve their lives, this broken promise is tragic. For the countries that depend on today’s youth to solve poverty and drive development, it is a massive lost opportunity.
Educate! transforms secondary education in Africa to teach young people to solve poverty for themselves and their communities. We provide youth with skills training in leadership, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness along with mentorship to start real businesses at school. Our model, called the Educate! Experience, is delivered through practically-trained teachers and empowered youth mentors. Where others see the risks of unemployed youth, we see potential: We believe secondary education is the most untapped resource across the continent for cultivating talent and for development more broadly, and we aim to catalyze its transformation.
Over the last couple of years, Educate! has taken monumental steps towards operating our program at scale in Uganda. We’ve grown from reaching just 52 schools in 2012 to reaching over 350 schools and 120,000 students this year. We’re working with 14,000 of them intensively! That means that, counting our 100 new schools in Rwanda, over the last four years, we’ve grown our direct impact in schools by 10X! Now youth across Uganda are receiving skills training in leadership, entrepreneurship, and workforce readiness, to start real businesses at school and improve their livelihoods. In the process, Educate! continues to consistently exceed our goals for scale, as demand for our program is growing beyond our own expectations.
Leading institutions and thought leaders in global education, social enterprise, and international development, such as the Brookings Institution, Stanford Social Innovation Review, Devex, and Bill Gates have recently featured Educate! as a leader in skills-based education.
Theory of Change
Long Term Vision, Strategy and Sustainability
Educate!’s Vision for 2024 is to measurably impact one million students annually and reach four million more broadly across sub-Saharan Africa. Through advocacy, practical training for teachers, and direct service in schools, we are working to make this practical, skills-based model an integral part of African education systems.
Today, Educate! is scaling its solution in Uganda, working with 14,000 youth intensively and almost 120,000 students more broadly annually across 350 schools. In 2012 Educate! supported Uganda's government in nationally integrating a more practical entrepreneurship curriculum and student business club structure. This curriculum now reaches more than 50,000 youth annually. We continue to support the Ugandan government to include skills-based learning into both upper and lower secondary curriculum reforms.
In 2016 we launched in a second country: Rwanda. Through our education reform efforts there, we will impact the education of every secondary student across the nation—that’s 215,000 youth annually.
We are now pursuing a new opportunity - expanding into Kenya, our third country - as the country begins a national curriculum reform, allowing us for the first time to design a country program in tandem with a national reform. With IDEO’s design expertise and investment, we will be able to deliver the most relevant, replicable, and impact-driven solution for youth in Kenya, and eventually across the continent. As a result, millions of youth will have the tools to become drivers of change across the continent and become the generation that solves poverty.
Educate! is increasingly positioned to lead the market for skills-based education reform support in coming years, building the foundation for long-term sustainability and transformational change to whole education systems for millions of youth. With population in Africa projected to quadruple by the end of the century, enrollment in secondary school is expected to double in the next 15 years, and 90% of youth projected to work in the informal sector, Educate! is leading the charge in developing a scalable, sustainable solution to the challenge and opportunity of an unprecedented youth bulge on a continent that will make up 40% of the world by the turn of the century.
Direct Delivery Program Description
As Educate! expands, we are adapting our programs to new contexts, but we always center our work around adapting core elements of the Educate! Experience model we designed, piloted, and have now started scaling in Uganda.
The Educate! Experience
Educate!’s flagship, direct intervention program, called The Educate! Experience, reaches youth by sending a Mentor—a carefully selected and trained team member—into partner schools to work with selected students (Educate! Scholars) for almost two years. Through the Educate! Experience program Mentors teach an entrepreneurship, leadership, and workforce readiness course, which includes practical experience starting a business or community project, to 40 Scholars in each secondary school. With support from an Educate! trained Mentor and teacher, an average of 100 students in each school also form business clubs and practice launching enterprises in a team setting. Educate! also selects at least one teacher and one administrator per school to participate in the Experience Association, where they receive trainings on interactive teaching methods, and support other Educate! activities that occur in each school. We estimate that our total impact is at least 350 youth per school.
Results, Impact and Cost-Effectiveness
Over the last seven years, Educate! has rigorously designed, tested, and improved our skills-based model of education in Uganda to transform the lives of youth, scaling it to over 14,000 youth in 350 schools. We have honed the tools to provide a quality education that creates sustainable livelihoods: more businesses, more jobs, greater leadership, higher incomes, and stronger independence. Results from our randomized controlled trial (RCT) show that students who completed our program earned more than twice as much as their peers, and our students are 64% more likely to start businesses. The effect on girls was even larger—our female graduates earned 120% more than girls in the control group and were 152% more likely than the control to own a business. Our cost to deliver the program is $125 per student. Based on graduates’ income, Educate! generates a 5.5x return on investment in just four years, and a 6.4x return on investment in girls.
Success Story: Ambitious Entrepreneur Helping Youth Afford School
When she was an Educate! Scholar, Pauline developed a successful notebook-making business. To gain a competitive edge, Pauline began producing her notebooks with recycled paper. The strategy’s intent was twofold: first, it cut the cost of manufacturing, allowing Pauline to lower the seeking price of her notebooks, and second, the reduced price meant that lower-income students could afford to buy the notebooks and be well-equipped for school. Her goal is to expand her business throughout Uganda, starting in Eastern Uganda, where she has witnessed families struggle to afford school supplies. Pauline is well on her way towards her goal; she won 1.3 million Ugandan Shillings ($400) at the annual Green Business Competition held by the International Labor Organization! Pauline is a prime example of the tenacious, ambitious young leaders that Educate! develops. She is proof that the youth of Africa can become the generation that solves poverty.
Monitoring, Evaluation, Learning & Innovation
Educate! aspires to have best-in-class monitoring and evaluation in the education to employment space. To this end we place constant emphasis on M&E, and have improved and expanded our M&E team to ensure that we have the right systems in place to fully understand our impact and to integrate timely feedback for improving our model. Our M&E team created a scalable M&E system that is in-depth and timely enough to provide rapid information to manage our programs, but light and scalable enough to serve the growing number of schools we will work with at scale.
Educate! uses SMS (text messaging) and smartphone surveys as key components of our M&E system. With the goals of rapid turnaround and robust program management, in 2014 we launched a sophisticated mobile money and telecommunications system allowing for rapid turnaround, robust program management, and cost-effective data collection via SMS text messaging and smartphones. These technologies allow Educate! to gather regular information from remote parts of the country in a very cost-effective manner. The metrics that field staff provide through this system populate a web-based dashboard that updates in real time and allows Educate! to monitor our performance at scale. For example, we can track student businesses started on a trimesterly basis, and optimize quality as necessary if our scale performance is lower than targeted. We also now have an interactive, web-based external dashboard that summarize our most up to date impact numbers.
Evaluating Long-Term Outcomes
Our long-term impact evaluation focuses on the following four target outcomes, with the goal of seeing significant improvement in key indicators immediately after Scholars graduate from the Educate! Experience program and continued improvement on these outcomes within the first few years after graduation: Improved livelihoods; Increased Business Ownership; Increased Community Participation; Improved Workforce Readiness.
Continued Innovation through Build Measure Learn (BML) Loops
Educate! prioritizes ongoing innovation and learning in our core program model. One of our key learning mechanisms is Build-Measure-Learn (BML) loops, a type of feedback loop in which we Build a new or different element into program design, Measure its impact, and Learn from the results. BML loops enable Educate! to test programmatic and operational components of our model and to make rapid adjustments based on the results of each loop. For example, we used a BML loop to determine that using visual aids was more effective in the classroom than writing on the chalkboard. After analyzing the results of the BML, we were able to quickly integrate this lesson and get visual aids into all of the classrooms we work in. This year we are doing a BML on gender.
Adapting a Proven Solution for Youth Livelihoods to Kenya
In 2017 Educate! will begin piloting our model in a third country, Kenya, where youth unemployment is 35%. Kenya is now overhauling its entire education system and moving towards skills-based education that better prepares youth for the world of work, with an emphasis on entrepreneurship skills. Building on our experience in Uganda and Rwanda, we have the opportunity to ultimately bring our program to millions more youth there, to develop groundbreaking evidence on the most effective way to launch in new countries across Africa and to combat the skills gap driving youth unemployment in Kenya. Educate! now has an opportunity to adapt our model to the Kenyan context, to design it with Kenya’s current education reforms in mind, and ultimately impact 14,000 youth intensively by 2020 and 1.5 million additional students through skills-based changes to the national curriculum. There is a tremendous amount of work to do and we are in need of design and financial support to move quickly to launch the below strategy.
Phase 1: Start-up (2016)
- Hired National Team: Program Director and Technical Education Expert.
- Establishing Educate! as a legal entity in Kenya.
Phase 2: Launch Pilot (2017)
- Launch Educate! Experience pilot with adapted design in at least 30 schools, impacting 1,200 students, as research and development for modifying our skills-based curriculum to Kenyan context.
- Hire operations team including key Human Resources, Training and Administrative staff. Hire and induct team of Program Officers.
- Recruit schools for 2018.
Phase 3: Prepare for Full Program Launch (2018)
- Finish running and wind-down pilot.
- Integrate lessons/feedback from pilot into design of Educate! Experience program for Kenyan context.
- Recruit 150 schools for 2019 launch.
- Hire Country Director, Program Officers, Mentors and other key staff.
Phase 4: Full Program Launch (2019)
- Launch the Educate! Experience in 150 schools across Kenya, impacting 6,000 youth intensively and over 52,000 more broadly.
IDEO Partnership Opportunity
Educate! is thrilled at the opportunity for a catalytic partnership with IDEO, as it has the potential to impact millions of youth across Africa. We urgently need IDEO’s support as a design and launch partner - to provide expertise for adapting our model to the Kenyan context, to lay the groundwork for our expansion there, and to build an evidence base for expanding our model across Africa. By underwriting and providing design expertise for our Kenya launch plan, IDEO will be using its world class design expertise to create a program that has the maximum impact on students' lives. Your investment will ultimately reach millions of African youth annually.
Today in Kenya, the door is open for us to scale our solution in a new country, to remake the labor marketplace for a generation of Kenyan youth, and to demonstrate the success of our model in a way that can be transferred across the entire continent. We have the track record, the team, and years of experience to bring our solution to millions of African youth. All we need is a design and launch partner to invest in this unique opportunity that will create the conditions for the workforce of the future to succeed across Africa. We’re ready to seize the moment, and we hope that IDEO will stand with us when we do.