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The project was featured on BBC's 'Click' programme. In this video, journalist Spencer Kelly explains some aspects of Unlocking Talent in Malawi.

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%. 

Recent results:

Unlocking Talent is grounded in evidence-based practice.

Scaling and tailoring Unlocking Talent

Unlocking Talent class in Ethiopia

An Unlocking Talent class in progress in the Afar region of Ethiopia. This project was is run by VSO in conjunction with Afar Region Education Bureau.

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. 

Find out more

Maximising impact

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

Images of learners using one tablet through a splitter as well as out of school learners using the software.

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 

Unlocking Talent partners