The MASK Prize creativity competition for young Africans has just celebrated its 5th year. Encouraging resourcefulness, inventiveness and outside-box problem-solving, the MASK Prize challenges young Africans to rethink attitudes from ‘this is how we always do things’ to ‘how do we change things to achieve the improvement or breakthrough?'.
Young people enter their creative works expressed in art, music or entrepreneurial ideas, and winners receive prizes at the official Award Ceremony in Nairobi. The works are then shared at leading cultural centers around the world such as the Library of Congress in the US and Turner Contemporary in the UK.
Partnering with the leading media outlets, the MASK Prize has been a triumph reaching thousands of young people in East and South Africa. The programme seeks partners to offer the opportunity to more young people across Africa, and hopes to hear from companies, galleries, national newspapers and radio stations, grant-making bodies, and individual supporters.
The MASK Prize was established by a UK charity Mobile Art School in Kenya (MASK). MASK improve young people’s employability, entrepreneurial skills and leadership through specially-designed creativity-training programmes such as after-school Creativity Clubs and the MASK Prize. The programmes have been acclaimed by UNESCO, the Center for Education Innovations of the Results for Development Institute’s, and the Global Innovation Education Initiative of Harvard University.
Why creativity? Creativity (in business it is called ‘innovation’) is a key strategy for upskilling the workforce and advancing lives of individuals and whole nations. In the 21st century the way we live and work undergoes deep transformational changes: old jobs get phased out while the new industries emerge. Creativity and innovation - the ability to devise and implement new original solutions – drives growth and prosperity. It ‘feeds the world" declares the 2017 Global Innovation Index. Without it “survival is not possible", stresses African industrialist Manu Chandaria. People who are creative “know how to think outside the paradigm, to kick-start a new idea, to get a job done better” echoes a GlaxoSmithKline CEO.
However, education for creativity has been limited and often non-existent in many countries in Africa. Up to 75% of Africa-based CEOs report that the difficulty in recruiting creative employees threatens their companies' growth. The need for creativity education is pressing. According to the 2016 World Economic Forum Human Capital Report, the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa "have at most ten years before technology permanently closes the door on the strategies that develop the skills demanded by the 21st century".
Recently, the Kenya government made creativity a ‘core competence’ of its basic school curriculum recognising that investment in creativity presents the entirely different return on preparing young people for the jobs of tomorrow. It is hoped that the move will be replicated by other Africa countries, with the business sector playing a much more active role in advancing creativity of the young generations. The Kenyan Ministry of Education has turned to MASK to help them fulfill their creativity education objectives. The Ministry sees the MASK Prize as an effective way to make a quick and strong nationwide impact: “the programme shows young people the power of creativity".
If you wish to help more young Africans to be creative and, thus, to be better prepared for the work and life of tomorrow, partner with the MASK Prize by contacting Alla on firstname.lastname@example.org
Alla Tkachuk - @greatwalkofart - is a creativity specialist, the founder of the creativity learning programmes MASK and MASK Prize.
Photo Credits: MASK