Blog

Top 10 Impacts and Innovations in Transformative Learning | 2021 in Review

Jan 11, 2022

As we reflect on the importance of “Adapting in the midst of adversity,” creating opportunities for transformative learning, new ideas and innovations  for Africa to build the future. 2021 gave us the opportunity to “Build for the Future Better.” This better future includes classrooms that are not confined by four walls, digital learning brought to children who have never seen a tablet before, young alumni becoming the facilitators of groups, engaged parents using their knowledge to teach and mentor, and local officials partnering to ensure “at risk children” do not succumb to early marriage or child slave labor. 

Asante Africa Foundation had an amazing year because of the collaborations and partnerships on several levels; County and District Officials, Collaborative Implementing Partners, and Co-funders willing to take risks on new ideas and innovations for Africa, all resulting in life-changing impact. The following highlights were only achievable as a global community coming together as funders, donors, implementers, and youth participants.

While there are many other achievements, this is a summary of a few highlights.

#1: Transformational Philanthropy Enables Huge Impact

Early in 2021, four small organizations, all working in Africa to positively lift children and particularly girls lives, came together and captured the attention of Start Small Foundation, founded by Jack Dorsey, CEO of Square.

As a result, Asante Africa Foundation received a grant that has been instrumental in strengthening programming & transformative learning for 10,000 girls’ lives as well as strategic investments for a stronger organization foundation.

“As the founder of Asante Africa Foundation, I am experiencing firsthand that donors like Jack Dorsey, who are not part of the philanthropic mainstream, enable us to expand our work and advance systemic change in previously unimaginable ways….by trusting and putting power into the hands of the organizations he supports, Dorsey is expanding program impact and strengthening the system foundations for lasting change.” – Erna Grasz, CEO and Founder

#2: 19,700 Lives Directly Impacted in 245 Schools and Communities. 

Over this turbulent year, in spite of continued school closures in Kenya, hard lockdowns in Uganda, and ongoing cultural challenges in Tanzania, Asante Africa’s alumni and ground staff succeeded in impacting lives in the far corners of the rural villages in East Africa.

We are proud that 100% of our children safely returned to school and 100% our girl participants avoided early marriage and pregnancy.

Much of this success was due to parental education and engagement.  

#3: Pay-It-Forward Initiatives Reached More Than 80,000 Young Lives Across Three Countries

In a year where challenges were the norm, young people took to heart our LEARN-DO-TEACH model and the mandate to PAY-IT-FORWARD within their communities. 

Young children brought their parents to skill-building workshops. Teens started their own “home school learning groups.” Young adults began teaching and mentoring in the communities and parents began to work alongside their children in business.

We continue to demonstrate the positive impacts of transformational education are “contagious!”

#4: Keeping Vulnerable Children on the Learning Path With Transformative Learning

In Tanzania, the learning language dramatically shifts from 100% Swahili in primary school to 100% English in secondary school (high school). The odds are stacked against rural children who cannot afford “prep” school to learn English.

The Asante Africa Tanzania team brought together children from five different communities for a 12 week, pre-high school ‘Bridge the Gap’ program to strengthen their English language skills in three 3 core areas: English, Math, and Digital Literacy. When the program concluded on December 18th, 2021, 100% of the participants could speak confidently and share their new knowledge with government officials and parents. In January, they will enter high school with confidence, new skills, and a working foundation in English.

In kenya, a partnership with the Embassy of Japan, allowed the creation of hundreds of safe spaces for transformative learning, improved access to school, and sanitation facilities, for some of the most rural students.

#5: Life Skills and Psycho-Social Support for Families

More than 5,000 children were reached in Turkana East, one of Kenya’s most hardship areas.

Asante Africa, in partnership with Red Cross, educated program participants in managing their health, their sexual risks as teens, and having a healthy life in spite of being HIV positive or having AIDS.

“I am grateful for being able to learn critical things like guidance and counseling, entrepreneurship, budgeting, savings, and management. This is knowledge we didn’t have before. As I go back home, I will Pay-It-Forward by sharing this knowledge with my parents and my friends. Bringing us together created a wonderful peer-to-peer mentoring experience to learn different things from one another and that we are not so different.” – Sara, program participant

#6: Asante Africa Graduate, Susan Wins Global Competition for Young Entrepreneurs

 

Asante Africa and Prince Trust International (PTI) jointly hosted Kenya schools with the Enterprise Challenge resulting in Susan from Turkana East, Kenya winning the global competition. As a result, Susan flew for the first time and met Her Excellency Jane Marriott, British High Commissioner to Kenya, and was awarded seed capital for the business she and her mother developed together.

She is now a role model for girls and boys in her rural community, demonstrating what is possible with knowledge, skills, and tenacity. As we move into 2022, we will scale the Enterprise Challenge into Tanzania and Uganda reaching more schools across East Africa through transformative learning. 

“Education makes dreams come true. Parents shouldn’t say no to girls. Girls can make it. I’d like to thank both my parents for their hard work, for supporting my education and my business, and for being proud of me.” Susan

Scaling the Enterprise Challenge across Uganda and Tanzania based on Kenya’s success: In addition to the learning modules and hands-on projects, we will now be able to reinforce transformative learning by strengthening real-time decision making, critical thinking, and collaborative team work and conflict resolution with digital business enterprise gaming.

#7: Opportunity Creation is Empowered by Training

Youth Entrepreneurs Strengthening their Skills to Grow Businesses: Asante Africa has a graduated model called Youth Leadership and Entrepreneurship Incubator (LEI). In 2021, we were able to offer the most advanced level of skill-building and growth of existing enterprises, positioning youth to be eligible to “pitch” for a small business loan in 2022.

This opportunity created a future revolving investment fund for future youth business owners. 

#8: FOOD FOR THOUGHT; Supporting Food Security in Midst of Lockdown

Numerous collaborations took place this year when Uganda went into a hard lockdown. While food supply is not typically a core program element for Asante Africa Foundation, during the pandemic, we observed that it was the difference between a child continuing to learn or not. Many children and families were seriously affected by the ongoing economic stresses. 

In October, the officials met with Ugandan Asante Africa staff and determined food insecurity as the greatest risk to child safety and community welfare. In concert, 921 families were provided with food packages for 4-6 weeks. (In collaboration with Uganda Education and Child Welfare Officials and Funded By #Start Small Foundation)

One father said “As a community we prayed all night in the church together. 30 hours later Asante Africa arrived unannounced in a lorry truck with food for our family. We know God sent your team when we needed it most.”

#9: Digital Transformation Levels the Learning Field for Rural Children

Previously, we had proven the digital tools and content sharing approach works. Because of a generous grant by Start Small Foundation, as an organization we were able to make several strategic investments.

One of the most influential was the formalization of our “duct tape and bailing wire” approach shifting to a Kolibri learning management platform. The academic content is now fully aligned to the national syllabus with supporting content for improving academic learning in the classroom with activities, games and “play”.

Our adolescent life skills curriculum and teen livelihood skill-building content is fully available in every rural school and community where we serve. In January 2022, digital resources will be available to every child in Asante Africa programs.

#10: Hybrid Conferences Enabled Those Who are Closest to the Work to be Representatives on the Global Stage

Watch CEO, Erna Grasz, share our 2021 top 10 impacts and innovations in action

The saying holds true that it takes a global village to raise a child and lift the next generation. Each of us has a role to play; as funders and implementing partners, as volunteers, as global and ground staff, and as individuals. 

 Thank you for walking this journey with us.