Theirworld’s Education Innovation Awards winners reach 2m young learners

Theirworld has been providing scale-up grants, masterclasses and mentoring to the winners of our Education Innovation Awards

We’ve been working with five fantastic non-profits, who received £50,000 grants, masterclasses and mentoring to enable them to scale up their ideas.

It began with 170 applications, then 11 finalists and five worthy winners of the first Theirworld Education Innovation Awards.  

We’ve been working closely with those winning organisations since last year. Each received £50,000 grants, masterclasses and mentoring to help them clarify their vision and be ready to scale up their ideas and learning programmes to reach even more vulnerable children and youth. 

With the 2021 awards programme coming to an end, we’re delighted to report that these five inspiring, community-based non-profits in Africa and the Middle East are on course to reach TWO MILLION vulnerable children this year.  

Their projects range from supporting teacher training in refugee settlements to publishing content on a reading app. Theirworld’s role – apart from the scale-up grants – was to help the winners increase their knowledge and skills, gain confidence and show evidence of their innovation’s potential and impact. 


children don't get enough basic education in maths and literacy

“Innovators have described our programme as crucial and even mind-blowing,” said Angela Solomon, Theirworld’s Senior Advisor for Innovation, Projects and Research. “What’s really mind-blowing is that our awardees are all on track to reach their goals. 

“To truly solve the global education crisis, we need innovation that comes from the communities it seeks to serve and works alongside the students, parents and teachers to really find the right solutions for each context.” 

In Kenya, Samwell Kimiti said he was delighted to see his children asking to borrow his phone to read books provided in Swahili by NABU, one of our award-winners. He added: “The NABU app has been so useful in developing my kids in terms of reading and understanding the language. They also relate to the stories.” 

Here’s a quick look at the five winners of the Theirworld Education Innovation Awards and their progress.

AREAi (Nigeria) 

Gideon Olanrewaju, Chef Executive of AREAi and a former Theirworld Global Youth Ambassador, with one of the students at a displacement camp in Nigeria (Theirworld/Faje Kashope)

An accelerated skills development programme that helps out-of-school refugee children gain the foundational skills in English and Hausa they need to get back into formal education. Its Fast Track Initiative combines existing teaching methods with simple technology that children can use themselves.

Children on the Edge (Uganda)

Tushemereirwe Angelica teaches young children at Kyaka II refugee settlement in Uganda, where the programme is provided by Children on the Edge (Theirworld/Mara Mambo Media)

Provides free, quality early years education and teacher training in refugee settlements. With a lack of education facilities for refugees from the Congo, this project adapted community spaces. Parents and teachers say the children’s development is accelerating as a result.  

Lebanese Alternative Learning (Lebanon) 

Young children in underserved communities in Lebanon are learning through apps (Theirworld/Diego Ibarra Sánchez)

Supports teachers to use messenger applications that provide high-quality remote learning in underserved communities, including via a Telegram bot. Lebanese Alternative Learning partnered with 10 NGOs to pilot its project. It secured a partnership with the Ministry of Education for content to be uploaded to a large platform and plans to reach 183,000 learners by the end of the year. Also in the process of expanding to Egypt. 

NABU (Kenya) 

Samwell Kimiti with his children Beatah and Robin, who read bookish Swahili from NABU (Theirworld/Trevor Maingi)

Publishes high-quality reading material in mother-tongue languages, including via a free low-bandwidth reading app. It has exceeded its goal of reaching 1.2 million children aged three to 10 in Haiti, Rwanda and Kenya. NABU has uploaded 99 Swahili books on to its app. 

Ubongo (Uganda) 

Katembo Moses from Ubongo with some of the children who are learning through educational cartoons and other methods in Uganda (Theirworld/Mara Mambo Media)

Building equity in education by providing quality, localised learning content to children through networks and technology. Ubongo is partnering with local organisations and schools. An independent study showed that watching Ubongo’s educational cartoons resulted in a 13% improvement in early cognitive skills. 

Each of the winners are now fully focused on continuing to come up with fresh ideas and scale up their programmes.  

Philip Mugerwa, a project manager for Children on the Edge in Uganda, said: “Before we got the innovation grant, we were piloting this in a small area. We were in two zones – now we are in five. It is a very, very big thanks to Theirworld for making this possible.” 

Watch Theirworld’s 20×20 challenge: Education Innovations