African School for Excellence
Our solution's stage of development:Growth
ASE provides world-class education that is affordable and scalable. Our vision is to grow a network of schools that serves millions of children across the continent and the world. Every child deserves a better future and that if given the right nurturing and support, each one is capable of greatness.
Among the poor individuals in low-income African communities there is a drastic gap between their personal goals and their cognitive potential.
The problem is education, but not in the way we typically think about African education problems. There is a huge shortage of schooling opportunities in Africa. 90% of school-age children are in school in most African countries, but merely placing a chalkboard in front of every child is insufficient goal in today’s globally-competitive marketplace. Schools like African Leadership Academy and OWLAG are extremely expensive to run and can only serve a few students. This excludes thousands of deserving, high-potential students.
Why our solution will solve the problem:
ASE tested and reached proof of concept on effective and scalable interventions: our cognitive acceleration curriculum and community transformation. Using ASE’s system, ordinary township learners in Tsakane are achieving results five times above national averages in mathematics, and are out-performing the nation’s wealthiest learners in Mathematics and English. Our effectiveness is due to our unique approach in each subject- scholars rotate from direct instruction, to independent practice, to peer-based learning. Instead of assessing scholars’ development based on their exam scores, we’re creating environments where grit, creative problem-solving, emotional awareness, and abstract reasoning are cultivated and measured within our academic framework.
Our target outcomes:
ASE will replicate its success in under-resourced communities throughout the world and has built its Small School Model to do so. The SSM uses existing buildings (churches, abandoned schools) as schools and hires a Centre Leader to run each small school (<150 scholars). 3-4 Local Learning Activators will work to create a great learning environment and Subject Learning Activators will rotate from school to school to facilitate investigations in classes and aid in test-prep in their subjects of expertise. This model improves education quality and affordability while scaling.
How we will measure our progress:
The populations we will benefit initially:
The regions we will benefit initially:
The technologies we employ:
Why our solution is unique:
For Independent Lessons, we use Chromebooks 2-3 hours per week for Khan Academy Maths Problems, Khan Academy Grammar, Typing Club, Google Docs for writing and receiving edits and feedback from peers and writing experts from our global supporters, and Saturday Coding Academy with We Code.
ASE is on the forefront of measuring both classroom environment and scholar growth using a triangulated process of technology sources, including: data collected from Independent Lessons; scholar, teacher, parent, and visitor surveys with targeted questions; and collected information on reading and writing habits, library usage, etc.
Why our solution is human-centered:
Schools have traditionally assessed students and teachers on what was easiest to measure, rather than what is the most valuable information. Depth of thinking is much harder to measure than mastery of mathematical procedures. Online testing allows for teachers’ automatic marking, rapid feedback loops, and scholars’ individualized learning. ASE uses its technology resources to facilitate discovery learning through research assignments, to track library usage, and to ensure that scholars develop digital literacy skills.
Moreover, the provision of chromebooks has allowed us to train all staff in their use, increasing digital literacy at the adult level as well.
How people will access our solution:
ASE currently has 50 Chromebooks for a school population of more than 350 scholars-- a 7 to 1 ratio. ASE’s rotational model negates the need for a 1 to 1 ratio, but we would ideally prefer to get as close as possible to a 3 to 1 ratio. This will be replicated at all ASE sites.
We Code provides coding trainers, mentors, and materials at our flagship campus and plans to continue our partnership at new campuses.
Technology-Readiness Level:6-8 (Demonstration)
How we will sustain our team financially:
ASE’s current plan requires an estimated 2000 scholars to reach break-even. This requires 16 small “Learning Communities,” which can be distributed in any number of “schools,” from 1 all the way to 16. ASE plans to start 5 of these communities in 2018, and another 11 in 2019. This translates to 600 new scholars in 2018, and 1400 new scholars in 2019. The estimated cost to get to this point is R28 million ($1.8 million). Of this, R15 million is budgeted for our management and scaling for-profit, and R13 million is budgeted for initial start-up of schools, including pre-paid rent and site upgrades. This growth would get the organization to a break-even point in 2019. Because ASE will want to continue to grow, it plans to conduct a Series B round of financing in the second half of 2018, to assure the capital to start additional schools in 2020.
The factors limiting our success:
ASE’s two closest models for its scale model are Bridge International Academies in Kenya and Omega Schools in Ghana. By year 3, Bridge had 5,000 students enrolled, and Omega had 11,000 students enrolled. ASE seeks to enroll 5,000 students by year 3.
ASE does not have the advantage of a track record long enough to demonstrate university admissions results that would drive demand.
How long we have been working on our solution:5+ years
How long it will take to develop a pilot:We have already developed a pilot.
How long it will take to scale beyond our pilot:We have already scaled beyond pilot.
Our expected annual budget:
How much of our budget we've secured to date:
Our promotional materials:
We're looking for partners in these fields:
Why we're applying to Solve:
ASE faces a daunting challenge- overhauling an educational system that severely disadvantages the majority of its population due to remnants of apartheid. The effects are still felt today, especially in STEM– an essential component in generating economic growth. A model like ASE’s is essential to turn novices into skilled teachers, veterans into master practitioners, and young people into transformational leaders. A new way of thinking about education and its relationship with communities is urgent. ASE hopes to join a community of changemakers to catalyze this new way of thinking about education so that the entire world can learn differently.
Our current partners:
- Uproxx Media
- We Code (conducts Saturday Coding Academy at our Tsakane campus)
- IBM (piloting classroom technology at ASE to measure teacher effectiveness)
- Ashoka: Innovators for the Public (elected as a Changemaker School)
- Spark International
- Lettera27 Moleskine Foundation
- SAWIP (South Africa Washington International Program)
- #MeWeSyria - trained ASE scholars in storytelling, photography, and video-making)