In our pilot year, Metis supported 14 Fellows to lead innovation across Kenya's education sector. Get to know their work below!
The profiles below were prepared when leaders were selected for the Metis Fellowship in August 2017; some of their roles have changed since that time.
EDTECH FOR LOW-FEE SCHOOLS
LEADERSHIP SKILLS FOR GIRLS
DR. MAINA WAGIOKO
COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE FOR rural TEACHERS
DR. SUSAN KIRAGU-KANAYO
EDTECH IN NATIONAL CURRICULUM REFORMS
GOVT SECONDARY CENTER FOR EXCELLENCE
ECD CEnter for excellence
COMMUNITIES OF PRACTICE FOR ECD LEADERS
EDTECH FOR TEACHERS
MILLIAM ILUSA KELONYE
GOVT PRIMARY CENTER FOR EXCELLENCe
PROF. olive mugenda
communities of practice for higher ed leaders
ECD IN LOW & HIGH INCOME AREAS
Skills for incarcerated youth
CONTENT DIRECTOR, M-SHULE
Bold Idea: Build an adaptive learning platform that uses artificial intelligence to provide individualized lessons and feedback based on a learner’s competency level. Through SMS and a web platform, insights are delivered to the learner’s parents, teachers, and headteacher, which creates a way for the whole community to support the learner’s growth.
Path to Metis: Carl’s experiences have equipped him with a deep understanding of the challenges facing Kenyan schools, particularly low-cost private schools. He was raised in Western Kenya, where his aunts and uncles worked for the Ministry of Education and inspired him to enter a career in education. He has over nine years of experience leading schools and facilitating teacher trainings, including serving as a class teacher at St. Hannah’s Preparatory, a Head Teacher at Goodrich Schools, and a School Management Coach at Mukuru Slums Development Project. Carl is committed to supporting more children to learn through digital platforms, by equipping schools with stronger tools, leadership, and financial management. At M-Shule, Carl leads the company’s development, analysis, and execution of all content and assessments. Currently in seed stage after completing a pilot, the company will grow to reach millions of learners across Africa over the next decade.
HEADMISTRESS, SHOFCO KIBERA SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
Bold Idea: Support teachers to iterate and strengthen a ground-breaking model for developing young female leaders in Kenya’s informal settlements, through a free school linked to health services and a grassroots community movement for gender equality.
Path to Metis: Debborah has over 25 years of experience teaching and supporting teachers to deliver a high quality education tailored to the needs of individual students. She believes that the role of education is to equip all learners with a strong sense of self-worth, no matter their background. Debborah grew up in Western Kenya with a mother who was a teacher. She began her career teaching at Eregi Girls Boarding Primary School, and developed an expertise supporting students with special needs and disabilities at Likuyani Primary School and Daisy Needs Special School. She shifted to train emerging teachers as a tutor at Sir Humphrey International ECD Education College and then as a year three lead teacher at Oshwal Academy, where she managed 20 teachers. She is now the Kenyan lead teacher of the Girls on Fire leadership program, which uses a service learning model to develop female leaders, and she launched a service learning partnership between SHOFCO and Oshwal. Debborah has also written and directed plays at the Kenya National Drama Festival. At SHOFCO, Debborah leads a staff of 51 to deliver a pioneering teaching and learning model that delivers a high quality, innovative education to marginalized girls.
DR. MAINA WAGIOKO
Head of Professional Development Center, Aga Khan Academy Mombasa
Bold Idea: Build a blended platform that supports teachers in rural and hard-to-reach areas across the world to improve their practice, access resources and mentorship, and share their innovations.
Path to Metis: Dr. WaGioko is a respected expert in the practice of supporting teachers to innovate and strengthen their pedagogy. Most recently, he spent the past 16 years leading at the Aga Khan Academy Mombasa, where he has supported a pilot of the government’s curriculum reforms in coastal counties. Dr. WaGioko is committed to sharing his knowledge and fostering communities of practice for as many teachers as possible, leveraging his expertise to build new models of teacher support. At the 2011 World Wide Innovative Education Forum, he was named as the most innovative teacher in East and Southern Africa. Through Aga Khan University, he taught Masters candidates and trained teachers in rural Pakistan. He has presented at dozens of international conferences organized by organizations such as PSIPSE and the British Council, and his work has been published in dozens of journals and books. He was a Fellow and Faculty at the Harvard Graduate School of Education in an Institute on the Future of Learning. He is also a board member of Global Action Plan International, which supports education for sustainable development. He has a Masters from Aga Khan University and a PhD from SMC University in education project management. At Aga Khan, WaGioko leads a professional learning network that provides teachers with skills, mentorship, and peer support to strengthen their work. He plans to strengthen and grow this network to reach thousands more teachers.
DR. SUSAN KIRAGU-KANAYO
CO-FOUNDER & CEO, CHILDREN IN FREEDOM
Bold Idea: Launch the Children in Freedom Academy, a new school in Nakuru, Kenya based on the philosophy of ubuntu. The curriculum will focus on African history and culture, support students to respect and draw strength from their heritage and identity, and equip students to innovate and lead social change in their home communities.
Path to Metis: Dr. Kiragu-Kanayo is a social entrepreneur committed to the use of education as a tool for liberation. She began her career by obtaining a Masters in Education from the University of Nairobi and moved to the UK to obtain an MPhil and PhD in education from the University of Cambridge. She was a Research Associate at the Centre for Commonwealth Education, where she led education research projects at 22 schools in Kenya, and was a Programme Manager Research for Camfed International, where she managed education research initiatives in Ghana, Tanzania, and Zimbabwe. Dr. Kiragu-Kanayo realized she could have greater impact in Kenya than in the UK, and in 2014, relocated back to Kenya to co-found Children in Freedom, a non-profit that provides scholarships, mentorship, and leadership development to students from primary to university levels in Kenya. The organization also supports teachers to use gender responsive pedagogy and communities to end the practice of FGM. Dr. Kiragu-Kanayo is also Regional Co-ordinator of the Beacon Equity Trust, which supports children to be visionary and ethical leaders. Her work has received funding from organizations including the Ford Foundation and USAID, and she has consulted widely to organizations such as Girl Effect and the Population Council. She has published widely, and her research interests include pre-colonial education and African history, citizenship education, teacher preparation, HIV and sexuality education, and local philanthropy. She plans to launch a new school that builds on lessons learned from her work to build a new model for education in the Kenyan context, with a curriculum that focuses on citizenship and African history.
ASSISTANT DIRECTOR, KENYA INSTITUTE FOR CURRICULUM DEVELOPMENT
Bold Idea: Design tech-enabled tools to train over 250,000 teachers in Kenya’s 23,000 public schools with skills to implement national curriculum reforms with high quality instruction.
Path to Metis: Esther has been at KICD for over 19 years, where she has developed a deep expertise in the process of leading innovation within government. KICD is the unit within the Kenyan Ministry of Education tasked with leading reforms of all curriculums and content for students and teachers, including the recent Digital Literacy Programme (DLP), Kenya’s flagship education reform initiative. Esther leads KICD teams to ensure that these reforms are supported with high quality media, tech training tools, and capacity building for teachers. She is also on the team leading monitoring and evaluation for the DLP. She has led innovations including the KICD eLearning Lab for development of content, the Kenya Education Cloud for instructional content, and Elimika for virtual teacher training. Esther has a Masters in Education from the University of Nairobi and is currently working towards her PhD in education leadership for ICT integration. She began her career teaching history and ethics at a public secondary school. Although Esther has been offered jobs in the private sector and sees that government reform can be slower and more complex than change in the private sector, she remains committed to the public sector and reforming KICD to ensure that public schools provide higher quality education to Kenyan children at scale.
PRINCIPAL, PRECIOUS BLOOD SECONDARY SCHOOL RIRUTA
Bold Idea: Build a culture of innovation in the teaching staff at one of Kenya’s top public secondary schools, making it a model for how to engage parents, teachers, and students in the creation of a non-competitive, holistic, and high quality public education.
Path to Metis: From her 30 years as a teacher, Deputy Principal, and Principal at Precious Blood, Jacinta has deep knowledge of what it takes to lead higher quality in a Kenyan public school. She was exposed to innovative education models from a young age, when she attended UWC Atlantic College in Wales and experienced the IB curriculum. Precious Blood was founded in 1964 by Catholic nuns to serve children of families affected by the Mau Mau struggle. Jacinta was promoted to Principal in 2005 and under her leadership, the school has been consistently ranked as one of the top five public secondary schools in the country. In 2016, Precious Blood students designed a bus booking app, earning them an opportunity to pitch at the Technovation World Pitch Competition in San Francisco, where they placed second. Jacinta has grown a strong alumni fundraising network and built a new lab and resource center in partnership with the Ministry of Education. She also teaches Biology and Chemistry. Jacinta aims to build on the school’s reputation as a highly respected and prestigious school for girls, to innovate and demonstrate what a high quality education can look like beyond the traditional exam-focused education model. Outside of Precious Blood, Jacinta obtained an MBA from JKUAT and in 2010, co-founded a low-fee primary school where she is now a co-director.
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, HAMOMI CHILDREN'S CENTRE
Bold Idea: Strengthen a model for educating orphaned and vulnerable children in informal settlements with wraparound social services, high quality instruction in a free primary school, and strong parent involvement. Share lessons learned from the local program as a model for national and regional replication.
Path to Metis: From over a decade of leading Early Childhood Development (ECD) interventions in Kenya, Joy has a deep understanding of local needs, opportunities, and the international funding landscape in ECD. Joy grew up in rural Kenya with a father who was a teacher, and began her own career teaching preschool at Creche International School. As a Training Facilitator for Bridge International Academies, she coached field staff to improve their school quality, led capacity building trainings, and designed tools for operations and learning data management. As a Programme Officer in ECD for Plan International and ECD Programme Specialist for RTI International, Joy managed investments in and impact evaluation of ECD projects, led advocacy efforts, and supported government officials to implement interventions (such as the government’s flagship Tayari initiative). For example, she launched peer groups that supported parents to determine health and learning outcomes they desired for their children and utilize resources to support their children towards those outcomes. Joy has a BA in Early Childhood Development from Kenyatta University, a Masters in Project Management from University of Nairobi, and is currently completing a Masters in Education at the University of Wales, focusing on innovations in teaching and learning. Joy has been Executive Director of Hamomi since 2015, where she leads program design, impact evaluation, and fundraising.
LEARNING MANAGER, KIDOGO
Bold Idea: Build a community of practice that equips teachers in low-fee preschools in informal settlements with skills, coaching, and peer support to strengthen the quality of their instruction, and share the model with government stakeholders to influence ECD policy.
Path to Metis: Kenneth’s expertise is in supporting Kenyan ECD teachers to design and share innovations that drive stronger learning outcomes for kids. During university, he completed his practical placements with schools in informal settlements and began his career teaching at Nyamogo Girls Secondary School and Thika Road Academy. While completing his Masters in Education at Kenyatta University, his thesis focused on the factors that influence teachers’ strategies and methods. He also conducted research for Amref Health Africa and teacher trainings for World Vision. These experiences showed him that although most Kenyan teachers have initial training through a certificate or diploma, they have minimal ongoing support even though research shows that ongoing training is critical for teachers to improve their practice. This made Kenneth committed to build higher quality training that supports teachers with methods and best practices from around the world, and gives them a platform to share ideas and replicate what is working from one school to another. Kenneth pursued this in his work at Kericho Teacher Training College before joining Kidogo, where he leads, designs, and facilitates a program that trains Kidogo school leaders and teachers with skills to deliver high-quality education. He launched the Kidogo Community of Practice, a forum for Kidogo teachers to discuss challenges, collaborate, and share low-cost innovations, tools, and solutions for their local context. Kidogo also supported the launch of the Early Childhood Development Network for Kenya, a platform where they will share lessons learned from their model with other partners and stakeholders in ECD, including international organizations and government.
CO-FOUNDER, ELIMU SHOP
Bold Idea: Launch a platform for African teachers to share lesson plans and high-quality resources, improve their skills, and collaborate on innovative solutions for 21st century teaching and learning, through a financially sustainable social business.
Path to Metis: Lilian’s experiences as a learning designer, teacher, and instructional coach in all types of Kenyan schools equipped her with a deep understanding of the challenges facing Kenyan teachers. She began her career teaching for 11 years at Keveye Girls High School in rural Kenya, where she saw firsthand the obstacles facing students including early marriages, teenage pregnancy, high drop-out rates due to lack of fees, and lack of successful role models. She then taught at Alliance Girls High School, the top performing public school in Kenya, where she saw what outcomes are possible with higher quality instruction. As an Instructional Coach at Dignitas, she supported leaders and teachers in low-fee private schools in informal settlements to improve their school quality. As a Learning Designer and Lead Teacher at Nova Pioneer, she supported the launch of the chain’s first mid-fee private school in Kenya and designed a model that incorporated blended learning, an inquiry-based approach, and project-based learning. Over the course of her career, Lilian saw how the teaching profession does not have a high status in Kenya, and teachers are given minimal support to innovate and little recognition for their hard work. In June 2017, she co-founded Elimu Shop to solve this problem. Elimu is a platform that enables teachers to create, sell, and buy high-quality resources. For a small monthly fee, teachers can access the platform for support as they innovate approaches to teaching and learning. Elimu is in seed stage and is currently building its online platform, fundraising, and marketing to users in Kenya, with plans to expand across the continent. Lilian is currently completing her Masters in Education from Kenyatta University and is in a business accelerator program run by Sinapis. Out of 250 entrepreneurs in the program, she was selected as one of 5 finalists for their 2017 business plan competition.
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, THE ACTION FOUNDATION
Bold Idea: Break the barriers that prevent the inclusion of children with disabilities in informal settlements, by supporting them to attend mainstream schools, training teachers on inclusion methods, facilitating community-based rehabilitation, and advocating for their rights at grassroots and national levels.
Path to Metis: Maria believes that children with disabilities deserve to be included in all aspects of society and access high quality education. Maria grew up with a visually impaired cousin and while attending Kenyatta University, she volunteered with Special Olympics Kenya, a sporting event for children with disabilities. These experiences opened her eyes to the challenges they faced, and inspired her to co-found the Action Foundation in her second year of university. The Foundation equips teachers with skills to support students with disabilities, runs extracurricular activities in schools to promote inclusion, provides counseling and occupational therapy for children with disabilities, and equips them with strategies for self-advocacy. The Foundation also has a revenue generating stream that makes and sells accessories. Maria is currently setting up a community inclusion hub for children with and without disabilities in Kibera. The hub will enable children with disabilities who have previously been isolated and hidden to access educational opportunities. It will provide assistive devices, rehabilitation, resources, and social activities that will ease their transition to school. Maria has a background in public health, as she was a health coach and trainer for Abha Light Foundation, where she supported women living with HIV and AIDS in informal settlements. She also worked with Kenyatta National Hospital and the Kenya Ministry of Health, and volunteers at a home for disabled children in Kibera. She is a Grant Advisor for the Pollination Project, which provides seed-stage grants to social entrepreneurs. Maria is a 2013 Akili Dada Fellow, YGAP Entrepreneur, ADA International Fellow in Inclusive Education, and US Department of State Professional Fellow. In 2014 she won the Social Entrepreneurs Transforming Africa award and in 2016, was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 most influential women in Kenya by Business Daily.
MILLIAM ILUSA KELONYE
HEAD TEACHER, KAWANGWARE PRIMARY SCHOOL
Bold Idea: Strengthen a public primary school in an informal settlement so that it equips students with skills to thrive outside the classroom. Use it as a center for excellence that supports others in contexts with limited financial resources, to reimagine how to deliver a high quality education to marginalized children.
Path to Metis: With over 35 years of experience teaching and leading public schools in urban and rural Kenya, Milliam has a deep understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing Kenya’s public education system. Raised in rural Kenya, she spent over 25 years as a teacher and Deputy Head Teacher at 12 schools across the country, including areas such as Kisii, Homa Bay, Vihiga, and Garissa. She was promoted to Head Teacher of Kawangware Primary in 2009. Milliam’s school is the only government school in Kawangware, an informal settlement with over 130,000 people. The school serves over 1,600 of Nairobi’s most needy children who cannot afford to attend private schools. Despite a shortage of teachers, and textbooks, Milliam is committed to ensuring that her students receive an education that equips them with strong learning and life outcomes. She has led the school to improve their KCPE scores, added extra-curricular opportunities that keep students motivated and equip students with skills to run businesses, and renovated the school’s infrastructure and grounds. She built partnerships with PACEmaker International to place teaching assistants in the school, and El Sistema Kenya to run music programs. She is a respected community leader in Kawangware and has built a strong web of community and parental support for the school. Despite having decades of experience, Milliam is always eager to learn. She is currently completing her Masters in Early Childhood Education from Africa Nazarene University and her Masters in Education Management from the Presbyterian University of East Africa.
PROF. OLIVE MUGENDA
FOUNDER & EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, CENTRE FOR INNOVATIVE LEADERSHIP AND GOVERNANCE
Bold Idea: Launch a new initiative to support Vice Chancellors of public universities with training, coaching, and a community of practice that strengthens their capacity to lead innovation and reforms.
Path to Metis: Prof. Mugenda is a respected expert in the practice of higher education innovation and reform. She obtained a PhD from Iowa State University and an MBA from Southern Africa Management Institute, in addition to other degrees and a wide range of training programs at institutions such as Oxford University. She joined Kenyatta University (KU) as an assistant lecturer in 1984, and over the next two decades was promoted within the institution to Lecturer, Professor, Dean, and Deputy Vice Chancellor before being selected to be Vice Chancellor in 2006. She was the first female Vice Chancellor of a public university in East Africa. KU is Kenya’s second largest university. Over a decade, she transformed the institution and led innovations that included raising over $95 million to launching the country’s first university hospital, tripling student enrollment, opening 13 satellite campuses, improving the welfare of over 1,000 staff, and launched the Chandaria Business Innovation & Incubation Centre at KU in 2011. She was Chairperson of the Association of Commonwealth Universities and Vice-President of the International Association of Universities. Prof. Mugenda is on the steering committees for the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education Innovation and Reform, a DfID initiative, and the Young African Leadership Initiative, a USAID program. She is a widely published researcher, with studies funded by institutions such as the Rockefeller Foundation and the Ford Foundation. These experiences equipped Prof. Mugenda with expertise in the challenges and opportunities facing leaders within public universities that have deeply entrenched interests and regulations. She is committed to using her knowledge to support the next generation of leaders driving innovation in higher education.
More About Prof. Mugenda:
Professionals in International Education Profile of Prof. Mugenda
Profile of Prof. Mugenda’s Life Story and Career
Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Video Profile of Prof. Mugenda
FOUNDER & MANAGING DIRECTOR, "WE THE CHANGE" FOUNDATION & THE VALE SCHOOL
Bold Idea: Use primary schools in an informal settlement and a high-income area to provide high-quality, 21st century education models to students regardless of their socio-economic background. Leverage them as centers for excellence that conduct research and design of education interventions, train teachers, and serve as sites for leaders from around the world to learn about education innovation.
Path to Metis: Soiya’s early education experiences exposed her to high quality education models and made her believe that all children deserve equal access to opportunities regardless of their background. As a child in Nairobi she attended Kestrel Manor School, which integrated students from all socioeconomic backgrounds (some of whom were mentally and physically handicapped) and the Banda School, where she was one of the few Kenyan students in a mostly white student body. She then attended some of the world’s top schools including Phillips Academy, University of St. Andrews, and the College of Law in London. Her career initially focused on corporate and charity law, but she left that potentially lucrative path to shift into the education sector because she was committed to use her privilege to enable opportunities for more children. She was Executive Director of the Global Youth Fund, which supports youth to become change agents in their communities. Watching the 2007 post-election violence made her commit to moving back to Kenya. In 2010, she founded “We the Change” Foundation, which provides ECD and education programs to children in marginalized communities in Mathare informal settlement. When she had her first child in 2014, she was inspired to start the Vale School, an innovative school that focuses on child-centered teaching and learning methods in Muthaiga, a high-income area. The school also trains the caregivers and parents of students to use tools that support their child’s development. Soiya was an Acumen East Africa Fellow in 2011, and also has experience working with the United Nations, Goldman Sachs, Njoge Education Trust, and Mother Teresa’s home for the destitute in India.
More About Soiya:
Soiya’s Founding Story of “We the Change” in the Huffington Post
Video Overview of “We the Change” Foundation’s Model
Malibu Times Profile of Soiya
K24 TV Interview with Soiya
CO-FOUNDER & CEO, CLEAN START SOLUTIONS
Bold Idea: Equip incarcerated adolescent girls with skills to enter employment, education, or entrepreneurship when they leave prison. Lower recidivism rates, build the business case for the model, and advocate for government policies to shift towards restorative justice.
Path to Metis: Teresa believes in a world in which ex-offenders from the juvenile justice system, instead of being stigmatized and further marginalized, are welcomed and integrated as members of the community with equal opportunity. Teresa had a successful career as a professional banker with international banks, before she was sent to prison in connection to a fraud case (a crime for which she was later exonerated). She spent a year in Langata Women’s Prison with her newborn daughter. As she befriended other inmates, she taught them how to read, write, budget, and write business proposals. This experience made Teresa realize how low-income women and youth could become caught in a chronic cycle of poverty, petty crimes, and imprisonment. She committed to spend her career advocating for reform in the criminal justice system. She co-founded Clean Start to support inmates to transition back into society and ensure that the high numbers of people imprisoned in Kenya due to poverty related issues, particularly children and adolescents, are equipped with the means to create a livelihood. Teresa is a Discharge Board member of various prisons in Kenya, where she supports the successful reintegration into society of reformed ex-inmates. She attended the University of Pune in India, and she was a Vital Voices Lead Global 2015 Fellow and Acumen East Africa 2016 Fellow. Clean Start has run five week courses for adult prisoners focusing on entrepreneurship training, education, character development, and life skills. They recently launched a pilot to support education for adolescent girls in the juvenile justice system to create profitable and legal business that sustain them and their families.