On 27 June, Trevor Noah Foundation, in partnership with Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center (RLC) Southern Africa (SA), the University of South Africa (Unisa) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), welcomed 49 educators from 14 sub-Saharan countries, including Mauritius, Botswana, and Comoros, as the second cohort of the Education Changemakers (ECM) Programme. ECM took place over four weeks at the UNISA Graduate School of Business leadership in Midrand. Participants received leadership training, coaching, and mentoring on management tools for the education sector.
Integral to the programme was applying a human-centred design thinking approach which comprises three phases: inspiration, ideation, and implementation. Inspiration includes research and understanding the problem. Ideation involves coming up with ideas and solutions based on the research from the inspiration stage. Implementation is launching the idea to market.
Throughout the course, the ECMs engaged in numerous activities that challenged their views on the current state of education in South Africa and the countries they came from. On 4 July, as part of the first phase of the design thinking training, the ECMs visited Eqinisweni Secondary in Tembisa, where they interacted with the school’s management team on possible solutions to problems the school faces.
Challenges mentioned by Eqinisweni educators were discipline issues, gangsterism, and teenage pregnancy, amongst others. The exercise proved to be an eye-opening experience, particularly for ECMs from outside of South Africa.
I never thought I would see such a school environment. I would not say the whole experience was a culture shock, but what I saw touched me and inspired me to find and implement solutions to help overcome the challenges such schools face. – Anoushka Mohit, ECM Participant (Mauritius).
The ECMs were tasked with creating prototypes, defined as initial or preliminary versions of their solutions. Ideas abounded, as each had unique ideas about the solutions they would like to implement to solve the challenges teachers and learners face in schools and their respective communities.
Ideas ranged from apps that help learners with maths, programmes that ensure quality and equity in education to apps to help teachers deal with learners with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). The ECMs were further encouraged by Yandiswa Xhakaza, Director and Principal at the University of Cape Town (UCT) Online High School, to use more technology-based solutions in line with the demands of the Fourth Industrial Revolution given the current digital age that will take over all sectors, including education. Some of the takeaways for the ECMs was that they should be “attuned” leaders, equipped with the skills and attributes needed to succeed in the 21st century.
On 22 July, the remarkable programme came to a close with a graduation ceremony at the Kgorong Function Hall at Unisa’s Muckleneuk Campus in Pretoria. There, ECM participants received their certificates, and one of their fellow participants, Kassim Jaffar from Comoros, delivered the keynote speech. The wonderful evening ended with the ECMs signature song and dance, which set the tone for the evening.
Through ECM, it is clear that we achieve more by working together. We would like to express our sincere gratitude to YALI RCL-SA, Unisa, and USAID for partnering with us to make this programme successful. This programme was also possible thanks to the support of Oak Foundation, which helps us improve educational outcomes in South Africa, fund and support business development and coaching for the ten most successful ECM projects, and enable the longevity of TNF’s goals.
Once again, we congratulate each participant for making it this far and wish them all the best for the programme’s second phase, which includes six months of post-graduate coaching and mentoring.