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Ongoza Program

June 2023
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IDP Foundation (IDPF), in collaboration with Dignitas and Premier Credit Limited, launched the Ongoza program in Kenya in 2022.

The program is focused on improving quality and learning outcomes in non-formal schools through a combination of financial support, school leadership training, and improving teachers’ ability to deliver Kenya’s Competency Based Curriculum (CBC).

Through Ongoza (which means ‘Lead’ in Kiswahili), Dignitas provides continuous professional development support to teachers and instructional leaders on classroom culture, learner engagement, and instructional leadership. Additionally, the Foundation’s initial investment of USD $1.6m was met with an even larger contribution of USD $2m in private financing from Premier Credit. School owners participating in the program have access to Premier Credit’s low-interest school improvement loan, designed specifically to support the needs of these schools, as well as receive training on effective management of school finances and record keeping.

This partnership with IDP Foundation and Dignitas will help us as a financial institution to serve our people with tailor-made financial services that aim to improve the lives of not only this generation but generations to come
Barnes Orlando – Operations Manager (SME) of Premier Credit.

There are estimated to be over 2,000 non-formal schools (as low-fee private schools are often referred to) across Kenya, which are responsible for educating over 500,000 pupils. However, many of the children attending these schools are from extremely poor backgrounds. Therefore, parents often have to make significant sacrifices to ensure that their children receive a quality education. In addition, while 90% of teachers at public schools in Kenya are certified by the Teachers Service Commission (TSC), 90% of their counterparts working at LCPS are not. Finally, school infrastructure remains poor across all school settings. Through the Ongoza program, IDPF, Premier Credit and Dignitas work to address these barriers to quality education by providing access to both in-service teacher training that is aligned with the Kenyan government and access to finance that can be used to improve school infrastructure. IDPF has successfully applied this approach in Ghana for over 14 years of funding for its flagship Rising Schools Program and is now aiming to replicate this success in Kenya through its partnership with the Ongoza Program.

Speaking about this partnership, IDPF CEO Corina Gardner said:

IDP Foundation has always been committed to partnerships that drive sustainable solutions to education shortfalls in low and middle-income countries. We are proud that the Ongoza program, much like our Rising Schools Program in Ghana, is centered around empowering local actors, such as the education entrepreneurs who have responded to their community’s need for more schools. Through our local partners, we are committed to improving learning outcomes in marginalized communities while complementing The Kenyan government’s education agenda.

Ongoza Program Impact, 2023 June

Non-formal schools in Kenya play a critical role in expanding access to education among marginalized communities, complementing the government’s Vision 2030 strategy. Part of this strategy included the establishment and operationalization of the National Council on Nomadic Education in Kenya (NACONEK) “in order to promote access, retention and quality education for nomadic communities.” NACONEK has provided approval for the Ongoza training for school leaders and teachers that aligns with the Kenyan Government’s educational goals. IDP Foundation commends this work and  believes that these schools play an important role in meeting national education goals. Therefore their integration into a connected system of education that is governed by the state and supported with tailored interventions is key to improved learning outcomes for all.


Commenting on this alignment, Deborah Kimathi, CEO of Dignitas, said:

Non-formal schools in Kenya have faced enormous challenges due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is critical to get these schools back on their feet – both financially and through developing core competencies in the classroom. By focusing our training on key competencies that are aligned with the Kenyan Government’s Competency Based Curriculum – communication, collaboration, self-efficacy, and critical thinking – the Ongoza program aims to see measurable improvements in the key skills needed to improve learner outcomes, ensuring all children attend vibrant schools where they can thrive and succeed

The Ongoza program is just one part of what IDPF hopes will be a global shift that helps the ANS sector to become increasingly recognized and supported by governments as well as private finance, and allows all actors from across the educational landscape to focus on improving educational outcomes and achieving SDG4.

Our Ongoza partners officially launched the program with a roundtable webinar on 29th September, a recording of which you can find here.

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