Instill Education’s journey, our journey as entrepreneurs began 6 years ago with a simple vision: to transform the quality of teaching and learning in every African classroom. We watched with admiration the likes of Relay, Match, National Institute of Education (Singapore) and others who were reimagining teacher education across the world and wondered: why were there so few (if any) African education institutions on that list?
We dreamt of launching the best African private higher education institution with the mission of training the next generation of exceptional African teachers and school leaders. In the context of a growing shortage of educators and declining outcomes, this challenge was the most important, most difficult and most needed.
In retrospect, I can’t help but laugh at ourselves. It often feels like we have accomplished so little in the last six years. Don’t get me wrong; our ride so far has been incredible: incredibly frustrating, incredibly exhilarating and incredibly humbling. We have worked with over 5000 teachers and school leaders across South Africa, Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and Uganda. We launched Upskill, our free digital professional development (PD) platform late last year and have teachers as far away as India completing modules. (Try it out and give us feedback at: upskill.instill.education).
And yet, we have only started scratching the surface of what is needed and what is possible. In South Africa, we hope to launch our first accredited programmes later this year. With our government partners and social impact funders/investors, we are taking Upskill to over 1 million teachers across the continent. Ultimately, we believe educator workforce challenges can only be solved by connecting their broken professional journeys; from the time many start in the classroom even before earning their first degree, to earning their initial teacher degree, to their lifelong professional development journey or to further degrees and promotions. We believe that our educators’ improvement journey has to build both on their passion and commitment, and provide the type of support and social/financial/career incentives throughout their professional and personal journeys.
This is just the beginning of our journey. We will need many others to join us, to help shape a vision beyond what we can achieve alone, or even conceive as possible. For them (and for catharsis for us), we are launching two blogs to share the lessons, conversations and future perspectives.
The Journey series will focus on our authentic experiences. The (education) start-up ecosystem is so much about image curation and so little about vulnerability and authenticity. It isn’t helpful to anyone. Everything isn’t awesome. We want to have the difficult conversations about entrepreneurship and health (financial, mental, emotional, physical, relationship, etc.), about the great (and not-so-great people) we have met along the way, about our many failures and our occasional successes. We want to provoke an irreverent conversation about the nature of our ecosystem, and how it needs to evolve.
The Ideas series is a bit more serious. It will focus on the things we are (still) learning about, our thoughts about what has and hasn’t worked for us in pre- and in- service education. We want to share our ongoing vision about the future of the education workforce, and to give a voice to our incredible faculty, student-teachers, and our teachers.
We are imagining this as the beginning of many conversations. We will have a point of view, and we know it will only get better if we hear yours.. I hope you will join us in it. I promise we are going to be anything but conventional.
by: Alim Ladha Founder/CEO of Instill Education