On 10 November, CEI Program Director, Donika Dimovska, participated in an Education Marketplace designed to bring together program implementers and cocoa and chocolate company representatives to explore ways to strengthen the education system in cocoa-growing areas in Cote d’Ivoire (CDI). The event, hosted by the Transforming Education in Cocoa Communities Initiative (TRECC), formally kicked off their second grant matching process in which they plan to co-design education programs with industry partners who have investments in the region.
What is TRECC looking for?
Supported by the Jacobs Foundation and the Bernard van Leer Foundation, the idea behind TRECC is to galvanize the industry partners' interest in evidence-based education interventions, and by leveraging investments into community development in CDI’s cocoa-growing communities as a larger whole, education being an important element of it. Grant-matching mechanism, one of TRECC’s six interlinked pillars (others include research, capacity building, impact finance, engagement, and policy strengthening), is focused on early childhood development (ECD), improved learning outcomes at primary education level, and technical and vocational technology (TVET). TRECC engaged Results for Development (R4D) and ASHOKA to map the landscape of education and leverage our respective networks to source program models for adaptation in the region. The recent TRECC Marketplace served to introduce cocoa and chocolate companies active in the region to a range of promising models that could serve as inspiration for co-development and adaptation.
How is this Initiative linked to CEI?
CEI undertook a systematic landscaping process of the key challenges in CDI’s education sector, highlighting key areas for potential intervention that hold promise for impact. These challenge and opportunity areas included low engagement in ECD and parents’ inability to support learning and school readiness; low literacy rates, outdated pedagogy, and rural education system disadvantage in primary; and lack of supply and relevance of TVET programs. We knew that many CEI-profiled programs have grappled with similar challenges and tackled them in innovative ways, so we set about scouring the database to find the best examples. To refine our search, we also considered TRECC’s commitment to complement the government’s education priorities (outlined in a recent MoU), as well as program sustainability and effectiveness. Together with our partners, ASHOKA, we recommended a range of promising programs for possible adaptation in CDI.
Ok, so back to the Marketplace
At the Marketplace, Nora Marketos of the Jacobs Foundation introduced the meeting, and the opening session focused on recent evidence in primary education. The second half featured a series of fast-paced pitches from implementing organizations, including Diálogos Educación, Pencils of Promise, Room to Read, Aflatoun, Planet Guarantee, Worldreader and vChalk. Donika, CEI Program Director, offered closing remarks and highlighted the excitement around being able to draw inspiration from such a wide set of implementers and co-create pilots tailored to the CDI context that could transform the educational sector. She also noted that it would be important to think about investments in a holistic and integrated way as stepping stones to broader education system improvement.
What happens next?
TRECC is pursuing a co-design, pilot, and scale-up process for promising models through 2018. R4D and ASHOKA will finalize their recommendations (which will ultimately be compiled and shared on CEI, so stay tuned!) and present them to TRECC. Over the next six months, TRECC will engage the industry partners to collaboratively design pilot models, taking advantage of complementarities in the government’s initiatives as well as other activities in health, nutrition, female empowerment, or access to finance and insurance. Pilots will start in summer 2017, run for 12-18 months, and receive evaluation support throughout. Successful programs will then receive three years of additional funding by TRECC and the companies, and support to scale up their model.
Depending on the model chosen, its applicability for the Ivoirian context and feasible linkages with ongoing company investments, the co-funding levels from TRECC and the respective cocoa or chocolate company will be individually defined for each partnership. The innovative grant model is also designed to maximize the companies’ participation by offering higher levels of TRECC financing for companies that take a more active role in the program design and implementation in the area of education. For example, TRECC will split the total necessary investment 50-50 for companies’ low-touch engagement, but if the company provides, for example, additional project management support on the ground, access to personnel or their distribution channels, then the company contribution can drop.
What can we learn from this process?
At CEI we are excited to see the next phases of this work: which programs will be identified as most applicable to the challenges and opportunities in CDI? How will they be integrated into the local context? What will the replication/adaptation process entail regarding strategic partnerships with local players and stakeholders? How involved will the cocoa and chocolate partners be in program development and implementation? How can the government engage to ensure longer-term impact and sustainability? And finally, what broader lessons do they hold for other programs and foundations looking to expand into new contexts?
We think that the education sector stands to learn a lot from TRECC’s co-development and co-investment process. And, in that process, there is a lot we can share from CEI and R4D’s experience, particularly from our partnership with UNICEF, in which we documented five programs’ attempts to scale (check out our Journeys to Scale report), in fostering joint-learning, and in taking a quick ‘experiment-learn-refine’ approach to evaluation through our adaptive learning team. CEI and R4D are committed to sharing lessons learned from this process as a global public good, and we hope you will stay tuned for the ride!
Kavita Hatipoglu is a Senior Program Associate for the Global Education team at the Results for Development Institute (R4D). Prior to joining R4D, Kavita was completing her M.Ed. studies in International Educational Development from the University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education, where she focused on early childhood development and education, cultural and transnational issues of education, policy analysis and non-profit management.
Photo Credits (top to bottom): Anais Loizillon ; vChalk