Innovation, Impact, and Recognition: 4 Projects from CEI's Program Database Selected as 2015 WISE Award Winners

October 28, 2015Duncan McCullough

This year’s WISE Awards have been announced, and CEI is thrilled that four programs profiled in our extensive database have been recognized for this prestigious honor. WISE, or the World Innovation Summit for Education was founded in 2009. Since then, each year WISE has selected 6 successful innovations responding to critical education challenges around the world.

We look forward to learning more about Al-Bairaq and VideoBook for Deaf Children at the upcoming WISE Summit, but in the meantime we will continue to follow the work of Bridge International Academies, Nafham, The Educate! Experience, and the Talking Book Program with great interest. 

Loren Crary, Director of External Relations for Educate! Experience, says that after winning this year’s WISE Award, “We feel spurred on to push even harder towards our mission”.

The Educate! program, which develops high school students into young leaders and entrepreneurs through one-on-one mentorship and practical learning experiences like starting their own enterprises, has plans to reach 87,500 youth at 250 schools in Uganda, optimizing program quality, impact, and operating systems at scale. The upcoming signing of Memorandums of Understanding with the Ministries of Education in Uganda and Rwanda is also in the works. In 2016, the final year of Educate!’s piloting scale stage in Uganda, they have a strategy to expand their work to reach 350 schools, including 80 schools in the post-conflict region of Northern Uganda. And by 2017 Educate! aims to be ready for full-scale expansion both in Uganda, and in new countries in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Bridge International Academies has similar plans for thoughtful yet robust expansion with help from WISE’s support. The 2015 prize, which comes with a $20,000 cash award, will allow Bridge to fund their schools’ top performing students as they transition to high school. In 2016, the organization will launch their first academies outside of Africa, opening Bridge academies in Adhra Pradesh, and using their innovative model to strengthn the state’s school system.

“We have parents writing to us every day asking us to open in new areas and give their children the opportunity to be in school, happy and learning,” explained Lucy Bradlow, Director of Public Relations at Bridge International.

The Talking Book Program, an initiative implemented by Literacy Bridge that provides a portable audio device that delivers educational messages on topics such as agriculture and health to those who are illiterate in rural areas of Ghana, plans to capitalize on its award-winning opportunity by developing new partnerships through the WISE summit and after. This recent recognition will play a significant role in their work to reach 4 million of the hardest to reach individuals in the next 5 years.

Nafham is the largest online education platform in the Middle East and North Africa region. Launched only in 2012, the site’s user base has exploded to attract around 450,000 unique users each month. After their WISE Award selection, Nafham aims to provide a variety of new scholarship and advertising opportunities to new sponsors like local schools and technology companies. With ongoing refugee crises in the region and other challenges to traditional education, Nafham’s expansion plans are coming at a critical time.

And that is perhaps the most noteworthy element of this year’s winners. Their innovative work is tackling some of the most pressing challenges in global education development today. We are always happy when programs that we profile receive the recognition they deserve, and we cannot wait to see how 2015’s winners translate this award into lasting impact for those committed to improving their lives and societies through education.

To explore more impactful programs from our Innovator Network, click here.

If you or an organization you know would like to be profiled on CEI as well, please click here.

Duncan McCullough is a Communications Associate at the Center for Education Innovations, proud Masters graduate of George Mason University, and former White House Staffer.

Photo Credits (Top to Bottom): The Educate! Experience, Uganda; Bridge International Academies; The Talking Book Program.

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