Education Changemakers

Empowering our educators

ECM programme seeks to provide leadership development training to young leaders in the education sector, across Southern Africa. The Young African Leaders Initiative, a US Government initiative, commonly referred to as YALI Regional Leadership Centre for Southern Africa is based at UNISA Graduate School of Business, Midrand.

Empowerment Through Support

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI), a United States Government initiative, commonly referred to as YALI Regional Leadership Centre for Southern Africa (YALI RLC-SA), is based at the UNISA Graduate School of Business Leadership in Midrand. The ECM programme seeks to provide leadership development training to young leaders in the education sector, across Southern Africa.

Watch three of our Education Changemakers from our first cohort – Kabelo, Vera and Nombali – as they share their unique journeys from educator to innovator to entrepreneur, tackling some of Southern Africa’s most significant education challenges.

The Challenge

Teachers are essential drivers of a high-quality education system. They play a vital role in educating, developing, protecting, and inspiring our youth. When the youth has access to high-quality education, society prospers. Therefore, investing in teachers is an investment in our future society. Teaching is also a tough and complex job. Many are hungry for opportunities to develop in ways that encourage innovation and leadership. However, teachers often lack the resources and network needed to effect change in their classrooms and beyond.

Our Approach

We launched Education Changemakers in partnership with YALI-RCLSA (Young African Leaders Initiative) and the University of South Africa. The opportunity aims to capacitate young leaders in the education sector with leadership skills, tools, a network of support, and resources so they can transform their schools and communities. 

Education Changemakers consists of four weeks of in-person leadership training followed by coaching and mentoring, small grants to support school-based initiatives, and connection to an alumni network of like-minded young leaders across the African continent.

The Programme In Action

A Pan-African Opportunity

In February 2020, we launched Education Changemakers with 50 young leaders representing 13 Sub-saharan African countries. Our leaders had diverse sets of experience and backgrounds. About 50% were Principals or teachers and 42% identified as living in a rural area.

Pitching Innovative

With their newly acquired knowledge, tools and skills, each Education Changemaker pitched their project designed to improve educational outcomes in their schools and communities. They were evaluated in four areas: Value Proposition, Financial Model, Beneficiary and Client Knowledge, and Presentation Skills. The top 10 presentations were eligible for a modest grant.

Leadership Training:
4 Weeks

The Education Changemakers completed four weeks of intensive and experiential leadership training. They compared best practices, discussed cutting-edge topics with world-class facilitators, embarked on site visits, and perfected how to pitch their innovative business idea. Pictured here, the Changemakers visited one of our KSP partner schools, Eqinisweni Secondary School in Ivory Park. They learnt about the social challenges many South African schools deal with.

Return Home,

In the end, we honoured the education leaders at a certification ceremony. In addition to the implementation grant, finalists are also paired with a business coach for 6 months, while all Changemakers continue to receive mentorship. Leaving was bittersweet. Although many were excited to reunite with their families, the camaraderie was undeniably strong.

Cohort #1 Grant Recipients


Vera is a Malawian artist by trade who created the Toon Notebook. Inspired by 3D gaming and cartoons, the Toon Notebook is a captivating, fun and culturally relatable learning material for Early Childhood Development education.


Education Changemakers - Lungisa

Lungisa co-founded Sikhulekile Reading Development and Life Skills, an academic and reading initiative in the Philippi community in Cape Town. The initiative’s goal is to inspire a culture of reading in township and rural areas by transforming avid readers into inspirational young authors.

Kabelo & Bonang

Kabelo and Bonang, two teachers and social activists from South Africa, created The Marking App. This app allows teachers to spend less time on marking and administration and more time in front of the classroom. The app’s innovative features will allow for accurate corrections in a fraction of the time.


Education Changemakers - Jocelyn

Jocelyn is a secondary School Head of Department from Seychelles. She developed the IAmSafe App, which services as a safe space for students to report bullying, seek advice, or be connected to a counsellor.

Cohort #2 Grant Recipients