Champions of Quality Education in Africa

Winners Announced!

These three winners will each receive a prize of US $5000.

You may continue to read and comment on all entries.

As always, we welcome your feedback. Please email us at [email protected].

These three winners will each receive a prize of US $5000.


Winner is Announced

August 25, 2009
  • Launch
    March 17, 2009
  • Entry Deadline
    June 23, 2009
  • Voting start
    August 4, 2009
  • Voting end
    August 18, 2009
  • Winner is Announced
    August 25, 2009

Dear Changemakers community,

The Quality Education in Developing Countries (QEDC) Initiative, supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has partnered with Ashoka’s Changemakers to find the most innovative educators in Africa. We are looking for entrepreneurial African educators—be they individuals or organizations—working to ensure that pupils are successfully learning reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills.

The goal of the QEDC Initiative is to improve learning outcomes for the very poor in India and selected countries in Africa. Our strategy includes (1) ensuring attention to and accountability for learning outcomes; (2) supporting organizations with models to improve instructional practices in the early grades of primary school, particularly in reading, math, and critical thinking; and (3) advocating for sufficient resources, used effectively to improve learning. Our grantmaking in Africa is focused in six countries: Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda. You can learn more about our work and read our complete strategy at

We hope that projects entered in the “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” competition will demonstrate innovative, effective approaches to improving student learning outcomes in Africa. We are pleased to be able to partner with Changemakers on this competition because we know that Ashoka, with its wide network of Fellows and an extensive history of work in promoting social entrepreneurs, is uniquely positioned to help us identify African education innovators.

Individuals and organizations across Africa are encouraged to enter the Changemakers competition. Following the competition, promising entries from Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Tanzania, and Uganda may be invited to submit proposals to QEDC for future funding consideration. The Foundation specifically seeks innovations that have potential for widespread impact on school systems in Africa. Although organizations must operate within QEDC’s six priority countries to be eligible for additional QEDC funding, other donors will be watching the competition and may choose to fund projects outside of our geographic scope.

We invite you to participate in this collaborative search for innovative African education programs. If you are an educator, a parent, a community worker, or work at an organization that is making a difference in the quality of schooling, please share your innovation with us. If you know of an education innovator, please nominate that individual or organization. We also ask for your input—we invite you to comment on online entries and to share your thoughts throughout each stage of the competition. Together, we will develop new innovations and showcase champions of quality education.

We know that pupils who can read, write, do mathematics, and think critically are more likely to succeed in school and continue their educations beyond the primary years, and they will be healthier, live longer and, ultimately, be more prosperous. Through the Changemakers competition, we hope to support educators who are making learning happen. Thank you for helping us make it happen!


Ward Heneveld

Program Officer, QEDC

Welcome to the “Champions of Quality Education in Africa” collaborative competition. We are building a network of innovative education entrepreneurs who are focused on improving the learning of African students. We are looking for entrepreneurial African educators and organizations who are working to ensure that pupils in Africa are learning the reading, writing, math, and critical thinking skills that they need to succeed. If you are a successful and innovative teacher, administrator, or education organization, we invite you to apply.

We are focused on learning and effectiveness. We are also looking for models that can help improve national educational systems. If you use unique instructional methods, materials, or curricula, we want to know about it. And we will encourage you to take your work to the next level, to reach more students with your innovative methods.

For more information on entering the competition, how entries are reviewed online, the voting process, and prizes, please view the competition criteria and timeline below or contact us at [email protected]

Eligibility Criteria

The competition is open to individuals and organizations (charitable organizations, private companies, or public entities) from all countries. We will consider all entries that:

  • Reflect the theme of the competition: Champions of Quality Education in Africa. Entries should demonstrate innovative educational approaches to improving learning outcomes in primary and/or secondary education. We are especially looking for innovations that focus on reading, writing, mathematics, and/or critical thinking.
  • Are located in or have operations in Africa. We are looking for individuals or organizations that are operating in Africa, particularly those whose roots are in Africa. Individuals or organizations from non-African countries must have local operations or African partners on the ground.
  • Indicate progress beyond the stage of idea, concept, or research. We are looking for programs that have had a demonstrated impact on learning. At a minimum, entries should be at the demonstration stage and indicate success. Judges are only able to evaluate programs that are beyond the conceptual stage and have demonstrated impact, even at small scale.
  • Are submitted in English, Spanish, Portuguese, or French.

Please complete the entire entry form and submit before the deadline.

Assessment Criteria

The winners of this Changemakers collaborative competition will be those entries that best meet the following criteria:

  • Innovation: We are looking for new and innovative ideas for primary and/or secondary education. We will focus on innovations that improve learning in the classroom, but we realize that there are multiple ways to achieve this. For example, an entrant may have developed a unique methodology and materials for teaching reading. Or an organization may have successfully involved the community in supporting its children’s learning. Entrants must explain what makes their models substantially different from current practice in their geographical area.
  • Impact: It is important that entrants show potential for positive impact on student learning in Africa. The entry must demonstrate impact on the target population it addresses, such as a classroom or school or community. Some innovations will have proven success at a small level, while others will have grown to engage millions of people. In addition to demonstrating impact (large or small), it is important that the innovation has potential to be implemented more broadly (i.e., “taken to scale”). We are looking for models or examples that can be replicated. This will be judged by considering the innovation's potential for scale, as well as the innovator’s potential to grow and expand.
  • Sustainability: For an innovation to be truly effective, there must be a long-term plan for securing financing and community support. Entrants should describe not only how they are currently financing their work, but also how they plan to finance their work in the future. The most successful entrants describe a business plan, going well beyond discussing whether or not they will charge for services. Entrants should also demonstrate that they have strong partnerships and support networks in place to support their current work and to aid in scalability and technical and financial sustainability.

    • Competition Deadlines, Procedures, and Rules

      Online competition submissions will be accepted until June 3, 2009 at 6:00 p.m. U.S. Eastern Standard Time. If you submit your entry early, you may get comments, questions, and insights from the Changemakers community, which you can use to improve your entry before the final deadline.

      There are three main phases in the competition:

      • Entry Stage, March 18 – June 24, 2009: Entries can be submitted until 6:00 p.m. US Eastern Standard Time on the extended deadline June 24, 2009. During the Entry Stage, anyone can participate in the online review discussion with the entrants. To encourage early entries, the best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, May 6, 2009, will win a camcorder and digital camera (equal value of USD $1,000).
      • Online Review and Judging, June 25 – August 4, 2009: Online review and discussion continue during this phase. Simultaneously, a panel of expert judges and a team of Ashoka staff will select the competition finalists. Finalists are announced by August 4, 2009.
      • Voting, August 5 – August 19, 2009: The Changemakers community votes online to select the three award-winners from the slate of finalists. The three finalists who receive the most votes—the Changemakers Collaborative Competition winners—will be announced by August 24, 2009. Each one will receive a cash prize of USD $5,000.

      Participation in the competition provides the opportunity to receive feedback on your entry from fellow entrants, Changemakers, and The Hewlett Foundation staff, judges, and the Changemakers community. Showcasing your program advises potential funders about how best to maximize the strategic impact and effectiveness of future funding.


      Early Entry Prize: The best entry submitted by 6:00 p.m. EST, May 6, 2009, will win a mobile phone and digital camera. This deadline was extended from its original date to address challenges faced by entrants in accessing the website, especially in French. Being an Early Entry Prize winner does not preclude in any way you from winning the competition, nor does it guarantee finalist status. All entries will be equally evaluated according to the Changemakers criteria at the completion of the entry period.

      Competition Winners: After the judges select the 10-15 finalists from the entire field of entries, the Changemakers online community will vote for 3 winners from the slate of finalists. The top three entries will win USD $5,000 each.

      Disclaimer—Compliance with Legal Restrictions

      Ashoka complies fully with all U.S. laws and regulations, including Office of Foreign Assets Control regulations, export control, and anti-money laundering laws. All grants will be awarded subject to compliance with such laws. Ashoka will not make any grant if it finds that to do so would be unlawful. This may prohibit awards in certain countries and/or to certain individuals or entities. All recipients will comply with these laws to the extent they are applicable to such recipients. No recipient will take any action that would cause Ashoka to violate any laws. Additionally, Ashoka will not make any grant to a company involved in the promotion of tobacco use.


Total value:
5 000
These three winners will each receive a prize of US $5000.