Source: World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey

Source: World Economic Forum Executive Opinion Survey

THE OPPORTUNITY

Nairobi's education ecosystem has the potential to test a new way and serve as a model to demonstrate to the rest of the continent, how leaders can drive higher quality learning outcomes across a city. Nairobi is the right location because:

1. Density of Entrepreneurial Activity in Education: many new models of school design, improving school quality, edtech companies, and a history of new education initiatives (Alliance in 1926, Airlifts and Starehe in 1959, Makini in 1978); rated by WEF as the strongest education system on the continent.

2. Innovation & Social Change Hotspot: HQ of continent leaders like IBM Research Africa, M-KOPA, One Acre Fund, and entrepreneur support networks, along with a history of social movements (Green Belt Movement and Mau Mau) resulting in vibrant "adjacent possible" that can influence innovation in education sector.

3. Forward-Thinking Education Policy Landscape: Nigeria and South Africa have both of the above, but Kenya has more of a history of progressive government reforms, including free universal primary in 2003 and recently, Tusome, Digital Literacy Program, Tayari, and curriculum reforms.

But Nairobi still faces similar challenges to the rest of the continent. Despite the hundreds of education initiatives that exist, they are not moving the needle on learning outcomes across the country. Uwezo's research shows "no significant improvement in learning outcomes" from 2009-2015. The UN reports that Kenya has the highest unemployment rate in the East African region. So Nairobi offers a lab to test how to drive stronger learning outcomes across an ecosystem.