iTeach: Leveraging technology to redesign the teaching experience in Sierra Leone

iTeach: Leveraging technology to redesign the teaching experience in Sierra Leone

Estados Unidos Pilot in Freetown, Bo, Serra Leoa
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$1,000 - $10,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Our mission is to provide innovative, capacity-building solutions designed to improve the effectiveness and instructional practices of teachers to improve the quality of girls education Sierra Leone.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

The literature on teacher quality indicates that highly-trained teachers are a good indicator of educational quality; particularly as it relates to students’ performance and enrollment. More specifically, in developing countries, female teachers make a significant difference in a) the enrollment and retention of girls in school, and b) the quality of education female students receive. Furthermore, female teachers often mitigate cultural and social barriers to get girls enrolled, and stay in school, and provide more positive educational experiences for female students. In Sierra Leone where girls often face serious barriers to going and staying in school, female teachers can make a difference for breaking down those barriers.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Innovation. Meet Teacher Training. Our solution is to provide intensive professional development training to enhance the effectiveness and instructional practices of female and rural teachers. At the core of the program is the use of multimedia tools and mobile applications (apps) designed to support the development of professional competencies, and build teacher capacity. They include: - Use of mobile phones (or other devices) - Training modules to enhance teacher knowledge of content and pedagogy - Classroom observation and evaluation rubrics - Comprehensive video library of culturally-relevant classroom case studies - Interactive practice assessments to provide formative feedback These tools and apps will be used to facilitate a combination of face-to-face training, and ongoing distance learning support to provide high quality professional development and ongoing support and mentoring for teacher leaders in Sierra Leone.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

1) We will train a select group of teacher to provide professional development (PD) training and follow-up classroom support in schools across the country.The one-year training program will equip these teachers with the skills and tools necessary to support other teachers and colleagues in developing effective instructional design skills, teaching strategies, and classroom management abilities across all content areas. We will specifically target female teachers, teachers from schools with a high percentage of female students, and/or teachers who teach in rural areas where girls are more likley to face educational barriers to participate in this training. 2) Over the course of the school year, Teacher Leaders will in turn deliver on-the-job PD training, one-on-one coaching and classroom support at their home schools. This training will comprise of a series of one and two-day workshops focused on a key content areas and/or instructional strategies to support continuous improvement in classroom teaching practices. Teacher Leaders will also provide additional one-on-one coaching and classroom support for teachers to reinforce strategies, conduct classroom observations and provide formative feedback. 3) At the end of the year, Teacher Leaders, teachers, school leaders and community stakeholders will be invited to attend a conference to present their experiences, propose best practices, and network with other education professional from across the country.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

There are many local civic organizations and international NGOs who provide educational services and interventions in Sierra Leone, but these typically tend to be student-focused. Of the few teacher-focused inteventions, fewer (if any) provide comprehensive, continuous, on-the-job teacher capacity-building. Such training are usually relegated to one- or half day workshops with little or no technological component or follow-up support. Thus, these organizations present more of an opportunity than they do a challenge, as we seek to form partnerships in order to efficiently reach our target population.

Founding Story

As an education professional, I have witnessed firsthand how tablets and mobile devices have transformed learning in the U.S. More than just toys, these powerful tools have made learning more engaging and fun. However, it wasn't until the introduction of iBook author (a textbook authoring tool for the iPad) earlier this year that I was hit with an "Aha" moment. I'm not quite sure why, but as I paged through a sample textbook I was blown away interactive images, and simplicity of the interface. The content leaped off the screen! I was excited at the possibilities inherent in the technology to transform the student learning experience yet again. More so, as a Sierra Leonean, I was even more excited about the potential of such innovation to transform education in Africa. What if we could leverage the use of such technology to support the development of professional competencies, and build teacher capacity? What would this look like? Who would most benefit? Thus, an idea was born.
About You
Project Athena
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Project Athena

Organization Country

, GA

Country where this project is creating social impact

, Pilot in Freetown, Bo

Age of Innovator


Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

Less than a year

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

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How long have you been in operation?

Still in idea phase, but looking to launch soon

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Quality, Equity.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to education/training.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

None. It is still in idea stage

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

Goals (by end of Year Two)
- Train 180 instructional coaches to deliver PD training and provide follow-up classroom support
- Provide continuous, on-the-job training for approximately 3,600 female and rural teachers
- Conduct research to determine what makes the most significant difference in helping teachers help students learn

Expected Outcomes
- Increase access for female and rural teachers to professional development training
- Improve the effectiveness and teaching practices of all teachers who receive training
- Increase the number of highly effective teachers in rural schools
- Improve the levels of engagement and achievement among female students
- Improve overall levels of student engagement and achievement

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

- Cultural and social barriers against females. We will work with community stakeholders to promote buy-in and begin the dialog about the social and economic impact of girls' education

- Lack of stakeholder support. We will work with community stakeholders in the planning process to promote buy-in and develop the conditions necessary to promote teacher learning and development

- Lack of infrastructure to support technology. We will provide supplementary power supply (e.g. solar powered charging stations)

To further mitigate against these and other unforeseen barriers, we will launch the program as a pilot study to help the program team identify deficiencies (if any) in the program delivery, and appropriately address any issues prior to expanding the program in Year Two.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact

FOCUS: Program planning and curriculum development

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Apply for grants and other forms of financial support to develop the curriculum and multimedia tools

Task 2

Assemble a team of teachers, content specialists, curriculum developers, and PD trainers to develop the curriculum

Task 3

Identify key partners (NGOs, civic organizations) in Sierra Leone with whom to partner with to implement the program

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone

FOCUS: Product development, research and program launch

Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Develop tools and applications and test capabilities in the field, particularly in remote areas

Task 2

Design and conduct research study to measure the impact of our training program

Task 3

Identify and train first cohort of instructional coaches

Tell us about your partnerships

A key priority in the next three-months is to explore and form keys partnerships with orgnaizations who currently operate in Sierra Leone. Below are potential partners we've identified so far:

Advisory and Technical Partner
a)Sierra Leone Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports*
b)Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
c)Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU)*

Research Partner
c) Innovations with Poverty Action (IPA)*

*We've initiated contact and/or have begun prelimianry discussions

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

Top priorities:

1) Investment - We need more funds to develop the curriculum and multimedia tools.

2) Human resources/Talent - the success of this project depends greatly on our ability to (a la Jim Collins)'get the right people on the bus'. This includes not only assembling the right project team, but also identifying and developing the right partnerships to create the most synergy.