The Educate! Program
What started as four separate programs is now developing into a comprehensive Educate! program, which encourages the three themes of education, social entrepreneurship, and socially responsible leadership – what we believe to be a powerful combination to empower students to improve their societies. We plan to implement each aspect of the program at partner secondary schools so that the individual components of the program synergize with each other to maximize the benefit for the students involved. In addition, the administration, teachers, and students are all involved such that the overall culture of the school is improved – something we have learned to be crucial in determining the quality of education offered by a school.
The four aspects of the program are:
1. Student sponsorship: Selecting students with a lot of potential, who otherwise would not be able to afford an education, to attend our partner schools. The students sponsored become key individuals in the next three programs.
2. Community service clubs: Formed at each partner school, the clubs give students a chance to gain practical experience in leadership and social entrepreneurship by developing sustainable projects that benefit the community.
3. The Educate! leadership institute: A three phase program which 1. Provides training and skills in socially responsible leadership and social entrepreneurship, and 2. Acts as a project incubator to help students develop, implement, and expand their own project ideas. The first phase of the institute is a one day seminar held at each of our partner schools. The second phase of the institute is a weekend long seminar which brings together students from each partner school to a central location. The third phase of the institute is a two month long seminar for recent graduates of secondary school which works with students in a mentorship/consulting context to help them implement, develop, and expand their ideas to benefit society (potentially turning those ideas into a job for themselves and/or others).
4. Socially responsible leadership course: A two year course for 25-30 students taught during A level (5th and 6th years of secondary school). The students participating develop a community which strengthens the values encouraged by the course. Upon graduation, the values are continually renewed and strengthened through an alumni program.
The next question is how is Educate! going to implement the program. We are looking to Teach for America for the answer.
Teach for America has developed a model which recruits the top graduates from the top universities in the US and places them at the most underprivileged schools where their help is needed the most.
Educate! is looking to do the same here in Uganda. We would hire top graduates from Ugandan universities and place them as mentors in our partner schools to implement each aspect of the program. The mentors would provide support for the sponsored students, act as the patron of the community service club, run the first phase of the leadership institute, and teach the two year course in socially responsible leadership. Each mentor would be placed at five schools of similar geographic location, probably spending one day at each school. We believe the permanent presence of the mentor at each school, the contribution of the mentor to the culture of the school, and the connection between the mentor and the students will be crucial to the success of the program. We have received a lot of support for the mentor idea from our Ugandan advisory board, partner schools, and other individuals and organizations.
Now we are looking to what incentives we can provide our partner schools for allowing us to implement these programs. The education system here is so test based that anything which takes students away from studying for the national exams is discouraged, especially in more well established schools. One idea which was suggested is for the mentors to teach a course in the standard curriculum (probably science or math because there is a shortage of teachers in these subjects). As the program becomes established, we hope to be able to prove through statistics that participation actually increases test scores by encouraging confidence and critical thinking. Until then we may need to provide incentives, like the one above, such that schools are willing to give us some of their students’ time.
Mutume Robert Sempa
Mutume Robert Sempa, in his final year at Kyambogo Univeristy, has been crucial in the development of the ideas behind these programs. We have been working together closely for the past several weeks, bouncing ideas off each other, and doing outreach to potential partner schools. Thanks to the meetings he has set up with his numerous contacts we have also introduced the Educate! program to relevant individuals and organizations, including the National Curriculum Development Center and the Ministry of Education.