Friday 23rd of February 2018

Challenge Fund: Case Studies - Teach For Uganda

Creating a movement of leaders working to end education inequity in Uganda 

Teach For Uganda (TFU) is a nation-wide movement of young leaders dedicated to ending educational inequity in Uganda by 2045. TFU recruits, selects and trains outstanding graduates and young professionals and places them into underserved, poor rural schools and communities in order to transform the learning and life-outcomes of children growing up in poverty.

The organization’s two-year fellowship equips the new teachers with pedagogical and leadership skills through a six-week intensive teacher training course, continuous professional development and in-service training. 

Having gained knowledge and skills through this fellowship programme, individuals are sent into remote, underserved communities to become effective teacher leaders in the schools and communities they serve. They are also coached to bring innovative ideas into effect through, for example, teacher training in ICT, Entrepreneurship and establishing “World of Work”  (WoW) clubs, to teach children real-life problem solving, critical thinking and skills relevant to the working world.

Fellows also carry out guidance and counselling among other things to help curb early teenage pregnancies through good dissemination of good reproductive health information and mentorship to their students.

Today, TFU is working to create a movement of leaders to end education inequity in Uganda, in order to create a country where all children can attain an excellent and equitable education enables every child an opportunity succeed in a constantly changing, and interdependent world. The Varkey Foundation has supported that mission through a 2017/2018 Challenge Fund Grant.

Here, TFU CEO and Co-Founder Mr. James Kassaga Arinaitwe speaks to us of his work with the organisation, the difference The Varkey Foundation’s grant has made – and his advice for other non-profit organisations looking to make their vision a reality. 

“Education has really changed my life
without it I would be totally lost.”

James Kassaga Arinaitwe

1. What has been your biggest achievement working with TFU?

“26th February 2018 officially marks two years since the launch of the launch of Teach For Uganda as an organization. February 2018 is the launch of our inaugural cohort of TFU fellows (teacher leaders) in the classroom. They are be placed in nine schools within the rural Luwero district of central Uganda, impacting 2,400 underserved children. This is an idea that started with us visiting schools, university campuses, talking to Deans and Faculty Heads to try and find candidates to apply for the programme. It is a now a reality with Fellows entering classrooms to impact lives that will in turn impact others. 

“We are also excited to have entered into an official partnership with Teach For All, a global network of ‘Teach For’ organisations which has given us the opportunity to share learning across 45 other countries. 

“We are proud to have built an incredible Board both in Uganda and the USA which includes Barbara Bush and Sabrina Dupre, which has galvanised huge momentum for our work. We even had the opportunity to meet with the US Ambassador to Uganda, who has now become a strong champion of our work.  In August 2017, we applied and honoured to receive a donation of 60,000 USD from the US Embassy, Kampala towards our work.” 

2. What are the highlights of the past year and the key moments you are looking forward to in 2018?

“As an early stage social enterprise that is fast expanding, each year brings its new opportunities and challenges. 

“Last year we launched our programme, recruiting and training our first cohort of Fellows. This year we are focusing on supporting them to be effective teachers in the classroom, getting them certified with the National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) which will authorise them as teachers across Uganda. Additionally, we are trying to bring on board more partners and supporters that will support our second cohort of Fellows and bring in the financial resources to help TFU stabilize, as well as build strong internal organisational and managerial systems. 

“This year we want to expand our work, raising more funding and recruiting between 30-50 Fellows, compared to the 17 recruited as part of our first cohort. We are also evaluating and learning lessons from this last year and from the cycle undertaken by the first cohort of Fellows. We are making programmatic shifts for our second cohort of Fellows so that they are selected, recruited and deployed to schools within one academic year, which we believe will impact our children’s learning outcomes positively, as well as shorten the longer waiting time between when fellows are selected and when they are placed in the classroom to teach.” 

3. What has the Challenge Fund grant contributed to and what has been the impact?

“The Varkey Foundation’s Challenge Fund has supported the building of the Training Institute and the hiring of the right Training and Support Coordinator who is now the coach of our inaugural cohort. It has also helped us to galvanise the support of the government, corporate organisations and individual donors to support our work and leverage more external funding. 

“Winning a big grant such as The Varkey Foundation’s Challenge Fund gives us momentum and publicity; it gives us credibility in terms of governance, in terms of leveraging other external funding and even board members. It shows that this organisation is not a single idea, [we] are actually winning awards and it makes that idea matter. If it matters to The Varkey Foundation then it holds water. Others can therefore rally behind it and support us in changing lives in Uganda.” 

4. What advice would you give to other grantees and to organisations trying to partner with the government?

“My advice is to look through your entire network and see who the major people are that could help you carry your idea forward. 

"Board members are a major factor of any organisation and even one or two people who are really strong and believe in your idea and the impact you want to create in the world will be fundamental in helping you work towards it. I met Barbara Bush years ago while I was a Fellow in New York and we had a conversation about my vision to return to Uganda and make a dent in the country’s health and education system. She said she would help and years later when I approached her to join the Board of Teach for Uganda she agreed. Know who is in your network, who can appreciate you’re your vision and your work and can come alongside you to brain storm with you and support you in terms of giving you either their wisdom, wallop, wealth or work. 

“For organisations wanting to work with the government, I would advise that they start engaging the government with their idea early enough in the process – even before the first launch year. Approach and build relationships with the career technocrats and mid-level managers who will be there to support your work when your concept reaches the top. 

“Additionally, be careful to not overstep government protocols and processes in order to secure a good working relationship long-term and show respect of all leaders as they can be the ones to vouch for you in case of any challenges or changes to your programme.”

Teach For Uganda © is part of the global network of Teach For All, working to expand educational opportunities to all children across the globe. 

Find out more on their work in this short video (5mins).

Twitter: @Teach4UG 
Facebook: Teach For Uganda 
LinkedInTeach For Uganda 


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