I. Opportunity Identification
Millions of underprivileged Kenyan children are taught by untrained and unqualified teachers in informal schools. In July 2016, Ideation Social Innovation Lab launched Kenya Informal Sector Teacher Training Project in Nairobi to address the problem of inadequate educational standards.
In Kenya, more than 5 million underprivileged children ranging from 3 to 12 years old attend informal schools. Free public schools are only serving around 30% of the school-aged children, while the private schools are only catering to the privileged few. As the economics of Kenya develops, more and more families in poverty realize the importance of education to their future, and are trying their best to send their children to school. As a result, the number of informal schools has been booming since 2002. However, 62% of teachers in informal schools, or around 132,000 instructors, are unqualified for their positions as early childhood educators.
We surveyed 1,860 informal school teachers across four sub-counties in Nairobi. 86% said that tuition is the largest hurdle in enrolling in local inservice training programs. At the same time, many education schools are shut down because of financial mismanagement. On average, 75% of the students cannot clear their tuition payment by the end of their two-year training programs.
Following in-depth interviews with five schools of education, we identified two key issues:
- Most college founders are motivated educators, but lack basic knowledge in business management.
- As a result of low admissions and lack of funding, most colleges are trapped in a vicious cycle of running under capacity and increased cost per student as fewer students can share the fixed cost.
II. Innovative Experimentation
1. Pop-up Training (Aug 22-26, 2016)To quickly establish our brand and credibility in Nairobi, we formed a five day pop-up training program for teachers from over 120 schools in collaboration with Complementary Schools Association of Kenya, the largest association formed by informal school managers. The program was widely featured by national and international news media, including Huffington Post and Nation TV, attracting over 4 million viewers in total. The closing ceremony was attended by all major education stakeholders involved the Kenyan government.
2. Pilot (Oct-Dec, 2016)
Our proposed solution has been tested by our pilot program consisting of three steps:
- Reassess the financial health of the institution through proper accounting and budgeting practices
- Increase student admissions through engaging local opinion leaders and media
- Provide educational loans for students in need and collect monthly repayments
Through implementing our four month pilot program, Blessed Brains Teachers College broke even for the first time. Our accounting revealed an average historical loss of $345 per session. Through engaging local opinion leaders, we increased the enrollment rate by 230%, while lowering the tuition from $60 to $35 per session through student loans. The repayment rate for the first month was 88%, a 50% increase compared to past sessions.
3. Tech Experiment (Jan 25-27, 2017)
In order to streamline the business management and training evaluation process for the owners of teacher colleges, we are partnering with All 54, IBM, and Ministry of Information, Communications and Technology (ICT) Kenya to run a three day hackathon to develop a prototype for a mobile ed-tech application. Ministry of ICT Kenya will invite the alumni from its highly competitive Presidential Digital Talent Programme. IBM Innovation Center will host the hackathon in addition to providing mentors and coaches for participants.
III. Our Goals
After establishing a strong presence and trust within the community by building relationships with local education offices, opinion leaders, and media, we plan to invite the founders of fifty teachers colleges with high-growth-potential to our workshops on how to use the app prior to April 2017.
By August 2017, we aim to deliver consistently superior results in business management and training for our selected colleges. We then plan to entrust a local NGO or social enterprise with our project for sustainable community impacts and future improvements.