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The advent of COVID-19 has exacerbated challenges in Africa’s education and training systems and reinforce the need for innovative solutions that are fit for context, and can be scaled up sustainably to meet the continually evolving context of education and training. Although the education deficit in Africa is large, significant progress has been made over the past decade. About a fifth of children between the ages of 6-11 are out of school, whereas for children between 12-14 exclusion is about 33%; and an estimated 60% of youth between the ages of 15-17 not in school, with girls more negatively affected. Thus, access remains a challenge at different levels.

Innovating Education in Africa (IEA) was established in 2018 by the African Union (AU) with the aim of identifying, promoting and supporting the systemic adoption and replication of education innovations in all aspects of education and training in Africa. The event showcased 50 education innovations selected from across Africa and held policy dialogues with policy makers and development stakeholders to make the case for embedding innovation in education systems in Africa, and endorsing the implementation of the continental programme. In 2019 the event was held on a much larger scale with strengthening of partnerships with key education development organisations across Africa, such as EU, GIZ, ADEA, Mastercard Foundation, ONE, GeSCI, UNICEF and Ashoka. In 2020, Innovating Education in Africa was held as a series of virtual activities due to the COVID-19 pandemic with more than 300 submissions received from 31 African countries. Since the inception of the program, over 1,500 education stakeholders have been engaged, 140 innovations have been promoted, and 24 organisations implementing innovations have been supported with grants of 423,000 USD.


Eligibility Criteria

Applications will be accepted from AU Member State citizens who lead an organisation that meets the following criteria:

  • Implementing or piloting an education innovation in one or more AU Member States;
  • Legally registered and operational for not less than 1 year;
  • Directly responsible for the implementation and management of the innovation, i.e., not acting as an intermediary;
  • Should not have been a previous grant recipient under Innovating Education in Africa.


Application Procedure

Submissions should be made online in English or French at www.edu-au.org/submit-innovation, with the following information:

  • Brief statement of the problem you are trying to solve (100 words).
  • Describe your innovation, specifically how it functions and the implementation approach (500 words).
  • Justification of how the innovation can be implemented on a large scale sustainably, given the prevalent challenges in the African context (250 words).
  • The number of people that have already used the innovation.
  • Legal documentation of business registration and operation.
  • Video demonstration of your innovation (optional).

Deadline for submissions: 25th June 2021 by 23:00 (GMT+3). Enquiries should be sent to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Evaluation and selection process

Organisations applying for the Innovating Education in Africa 2021 awards will undergo a four-stage review process:




Stage 1

Strict eligibility check to ensure that submissions meet the eligibility requirements that are outlined in the call for submissions

26 - 30 June

Stage 2

Fifty (50) innovations will be longlisted based on: demonstrated impact, revenue model, adaptation to the African context and challenges, significance of the need which is addressed.

1 - 30


Stage 3

Ten (10) innovations will be shortlisted by an expert jury based on their feasibility for scaling up in the African context i.e., cost, time and technical requirements, and their potential for wide impact.

2 - 31


Stage 4

Three (3) finalists will be selected during a pitch event, based on their ability to make a case for the superior value offered by their innovation.

21 - 22 October


Benefits for successful applicants

Successful applicants will benefit from one or more of the following:

  • Receive grants of up to 100,000 USD to implement pilot projects in collaboration with AU Member States.
  • Promotion and publicity of Innovation to AU Member States and Development Partners, including publication in the Africa Education Innovations Handbook 2021 and future invitation to participate in AU events and programs.
  • Certificate of recognition from the African Union Commissioner for Education, Science, Technology and Innovation.

Since 11 March 2020 when WHO declared a global COVID-19 pandemic, AU Member States have taken steps to suppress and control the spread of the Coronavirus in Africa, including closing of schools. While school closures are important in mitigating the spread of COVI D-19, prolonged closures negatively impact all students and disproportionately affect the most deprived and vulnerable students. Schools closure however does not mean children should not continue to learn. This means creating opportunities for learning at home and we need to act fast to limit the negative consequences of COVID-19 on Africa's education systems as follows: 


1. Ensure continuity of learning based on DOTSS approach

Implement an immediate response to support continuity of learning based on the DOTSS approach endorsed by the 3rd Specialized Technical Committee on Education, Science, Technology and Innovation:

  • Digital connectivity of schools: Advocate for schools and other learning institutions to be connected to the internet and to become hubs for providing internet access in deprived communities.
  • Online learning: Provide distance learning content, deploying radio, TV, podcast and online/e-learning.
  • Teachers as facilitators and motivators of learning: Teachers should deploy relevant technologies such as webinars, to continue to engage and motivate learners to learn. All Ministries to provide guidelines and support to parents for home schooling.
  • Safety online and offline. As more children use the internet for learning, they become increasingly vulnerable to online sexual exploitation and abuse. Ministries should provide guidelines and tools for online safety.
  • Skills focused learning. The curriculum should embrace the 360 degrees approach to skills development combining foundational, digital, 21 st century, entrepreneurial and job specific skills.

2. Monitor, learn and improve

Ministries of Education should document good practices and monitor learning engagement and learning outcomes to improve the education sector response to COVID-19. They should also share information on education responses and successes and challenges with the AUC to facilitate inter-country learning and replication of good practices.

3. Plan for re-opening

Ministries of Education should put in place plans to re-open schools, launch back-to-school campaigns when appropriate, and implement education strategies to catch-up on the lost period of learning.


Unless the above actions are taken with speed and at scale, national efforts to improve education and learning will stagnate or will be undermined. The impact will be felt at all levels from individual children and families losing hope in the promise of education to member states experiencing a loss in human capital and diminished economic opportunities.

Please find attached for reference UNICEF, WHO and IFRC guidelines for the prevention and control of COVID-19 in schools.


Let us work together to ensure uninterrupted learning for all during this trying time. UNICEF Country Offices are available to support you in your response to COVID-19.

The Intra-Africa Academic Mobility Scheme is a collaborative initiative under the Joint AU-EU Strategy for Higher Education. The Scheme is managed by the Executive Agency of the European Commission in collaboration with African Union Commission. The overall objective of the programme is to enhance human capital development in Africa, while strengthening intra-African collaboration as called for by Agenda 2063.

The Africa Federation of Teaching and Regulatory Authorities (AFTRA) is a calling for the nomination of candidates to be considered for award of the AFTRA Fellowship at the 9th Annual Conference in Accra, Ghana, May 25-30, 2020. The nomination closes by March 13, 2020.