Four Lessons from My 10 Years Designing for Youth

Over the past ten years, I’ve been proud to design and direct the implementation of our programs in schools in East Africa. 2019 marks an exceptional milestone for our team – a decade of operating our flagship Educate! Experience program in schools across Uganda. Taking this opportunity to reflect my own journey with Educate!, I’ve identified a few key lessons that have informed my personal approach to design.

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Reflecting on 10 Years with Educate!

2019 is an important milestone for the entire Educate! family, but it is especially significant for those team members who have been here from the start. To reflect on this journey, we caught up with Connie Mpirirwe, who joined the team more than ten years ago as one of Educate!’s first Mentors.

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Scaling Educate!’s Innovative Design Philosophy

Educate!’s Design and Experiment (D&X) team is on the front lines of impact – thoughtfully crafting the curriculum and content that reaches thousands of African youth and prepares them with the skills they need for life after school. To scale our design approach alongside our growth, Educate!’s D&X team developed the Design Academy. This rigorous interactive online learning experience is a tool for onboarding new design staff and building capacity on our D&X team.

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Abigail Leads the Next Generation

Empowered, ambitious, and brave, Educate! graduate Abigail Chepkwurui is making waves for gender equity and driving change in her community. “I have to become a Member of Parliament.” For Abigail Chepkwurui, a twenty-year-old Educate! Graduate from Eastern Uganda, this is a goal she’s been actively working toward since before joining Educate!. “I’ll campaign for 2026.”

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Refugee Scholars Gain Skills for Life

In Yumbe District, Northern Uganda, Educate! is partnering with secondary schools within three refugee settlements. Educate!'s program is particularly useful to these youth who are eager to learn the skills they’ll need to succeed in their new home. However, schools in these settlements face challenges that are unique to their circumstance. To ensure our program provides the maximum benefit to youth there, our staff must identify contextual challenges that might affect the program or students and modify the program accordingly.

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Mathematica Study Highlights Educate!’s Innovative Approaches to Enhancing Teacher Quality at Scale

A new study from Mathematica Policy Research examined Educate!’s innovative approaches for enhancing teacher quality at scale. The study, which looked at organizations supported by the multi-donor Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE), distilled learnings from the experiences of eight organizations implementing in-service teacher training programs. The findings offer practical lessons about how to design, implement, and scale efforts to train, motivate, and support teachers.

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Department Spotlight: Design and Innovations

Our small but mighty Design and Innovations (D&I) team has their hands on every piece of Educate!’s work. They spend their days designing our curriculum for students; orchestrating trainings for Mentors, staff, teachers, and government officials; and running experiments, developing pilot programs, and conducting field research to test new ideas and assumptions. It’s demanding work, but these are the people who lay the foundation for Educate!’s success and who make future growth and improvement possible.

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Measuring the Unmeasurable Factors that Lead Youth to Success in School and at Work: Innovations and Challenges from Uganda

Educate!’s Evaluation Director Meghan Mahoney presented on a panel at the Comparative and International Education Society’s annual 2018 conference. The presentation highlighted Educate!’s collaboration to develop a new, soft skill measurement tool for youth in secondary school and outlined our experience attempting to measure soft skills.

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