Putting children first
The Unlocking Talent project is a growing, global initiative, made up of an alliance of partners that focuses on putting children and their educational needs first.
At its core, the project uses innovative education technology, created by our partner onebillion, to help overcome the education challenges that hold learners back. These issues include, but are not limited to:
- Lack of trained teachers
- Overcrowded classrooms
- Lack of learning resources
- High drop-out rates
For context, in Malawi, where Unlocking Talent has been active since 2013, the pupil to teacher ratio is 74 to one and the dropout rate at primary age is over 50%.
Unlocking Talent is grounded in evidence-based practice.
Scaling and tailoring Unlocking Talent
We've seen education technology improve learning outcomes. However, to ensure learning success is fully exploited, we work closely with local partners to ensure the technology is implemented in ways most suitable to the country, region and district.
We work across all stakeholders to promote and embed the system approaches. This includes working with governments to include the approach within formal education settings as well as with community elders and chiefs as to ensure local understanding and support. With this in mind we:
- Use research findings to inform best practice
- Collaborate with local language experts to ensure that the content fits the context
- Work with education ministries to develop strategic plans for implementation
- Embed education approaches at ministry and district levels
- Train teachers, both in service and pre-service (working with teacher training colleges)
- Support the development of the curriculum
- Engage communities
The project can be adjusted and adapted for any given context, meaning the potential impact of the project could be incredibly significant. It has the potential to improve literacy and numeracy for thousands of children around the world.
Since the first pilot in Malawi, we have now reached 150,000 learners across 110 learning centres in 15 districts in the country. There are plans to significantly increase our reach by 2023.
Unlocking Talent - reach in Malawi
In Malawi, VSO worked with the Ministry of Education Science and Technology and the Education Infrastructure Management Unit to select the schools most in-need and set up learning centres.
To maximise the benefits of the technological investment, a number of context-specific approaches have been trialled to take full advantage of available equipment.
In formal education settings, these include:
- The use of solar projectors - sharing screens with a number of learners at one time in a classroom
- Splitting classes and tablets to increase users engaging with software
Outside of formal education settings, these include:
- Out-of-school outreach programmes
- Direct to community approaches
- Working in refugee settings
Unlocking Talent is a growing initiative
Countries where Unlocking Talent is currently active:
Unlocking Talent has been implemented, through VSO and other partners, in Malawi, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and South Africa. Research is also being conducted in India, Myanmar and Cambodia, Tanzania and Mozambique as well as Syria, Brazil, the UK and Canada.
Get in touch
To discuss Unlocking Talent in greater detail, please contact Dario Gentili at firstname.lastname@example.org
Unlocking Talent partners
Unlocking Talent partners also include:
The Norwegian Embassy, Comic Relief, The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID), the Government of Malawi, Unicef, iSchool Africa, Haileybury Youth Trust, Cisco, Airtel, the University of Malawi.
Unlocking Talent news and resources:
Unlocking Talent in the news:
- VSO partner wins £3.9m prize to develop education software
- Forbes - onebillion shortlisted for Global Learning XPRIZE
- Tes - onebillion shortlisted for Global Learning XPRIZEregarding our position in XPRIZE
- BBC Click coverage of onecourse in Malawi
- VSO wins of the tech4good award
- Interactive apps prevent gender discrepancies in early grade mathematics in a low‐income country in Sub‐Sahara Africa
- Frontiers Media - Engaging learning software promotes learning of basic mathematics in children with special educational needs and disabilities, University of Nottingham
- Scoping study by DFID [PDF]
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