Last week, the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) kicked off StartUp Africa. StartUp Africa is a program designed to spur entrepreneurial thinking among Africa’s youth and develop the strongest ideas into operating enterprises. Targeting young people between the ages of 12-18 in schools across the continent, the goal of the initiative is to help start 100,000 youth on their entrepreneurial journey.
The program was created by the World Economic Forum’s Global Agenda Council on Youth Unemployment and Global Council on Africa, and is piloted by NFTE and GEMS Education Solutions. The program consists of 8-hour Innovation Day programs in schools in both Kenya and Ghana. NFTE held an inaugural teacher training and student innovation in Kenya day over the weekend of April 11, 2014. Overall the three days were a success, but with some interesting challenges.
The venue for both teacher training and Innovation Day was Kenya High School (KHS). It is one of the top public high schools in the country and an all-girls school which has been in operation for 102 years. 45 Students from KHS and from Kibera Learning Center, a school in the largest slum in Nairobi, attended the innovation day.
Six teachers and two GEMS staffers were trained over two days. There were four teachers from KHS and two from Kibera Learning Center. The teachers were enthusiastic and responded well to the training considering that Easter vacation had started that day. They enjoyed the experiential activities and several said that they will incorporate some activities into their lessons.
One of the challenges on Innovation Day was the huge disparity in the students from Kibera and KHS. The students from Kibera had challenges with the English language (KiSwalihi is spoken at home and all the conversations among the students was in KiSwahili), while the KHS girls were totally proficient in English. We worked hard at balancing out the groups and tried very hard at selecting kids from Kibera to participate, but the language barrier proved to be difficult to overcome.
A lot of material was covered, but the students had fun and enjoyed the product innovation game and the elevator pitches. Though there were some challenges, Innovation Day was overall a great success. StartUp Africa will continue in Ghana, where we are expecting 100 students participants in the Innovation Day activities.