The DreamOval Foundation manages all corporate social responsibility initiatives by DreamOval Ltd, a 45-person IT company founded in 2007. DreamOval Foundation was set up in 2013 with the aim of improving education in Ghana through training programs focused on youth, entrepreneurship, and business professionals. The organization’s core program, iTeach, uses the power of a pay-it-forward philosophy. Information and communication technologies (ICT) teachers graduate from iTeach with the skills needed to prepare their students for the digital economy while passing on their knowledge to their peers.
There are more than 170,000 teachers working throughout Ghana. To help ensure the next generation of graduates leave school with a solid understanding of ICT, it is critical that these educators are equipped with the know-how to pass along this knowledge to their students. The DreamOval iTeach program attempts to solve this by offering school teachers a multi-day course covering various ICT topics including Microsoft Office productivity software and hardware fundamentals.
In April 2016, the iTeach program was already operational and garnering many positive reviews from those who took part. However, it needed a plan to help it scale and broaden its impact country wide. As part of the SAP Social Sabbatical for executive engagement, three executives from SAP spent two weeks on the ground in Ghana getting briefed on the program and its national aspirations, and were tasked with developing a game plan that would help iTeach reach new heights.
Spending time with the staff at DreamOval Foundation, meeting teachers across districts, and receiving briefs from the Ministry of Education helped the SAP executives gain an understanding of the challenges and opportunities for iTeach. As Angelique De Vries-Shipperjin says, “Visiting the schools and seeing how they were teaching students was really eye opening. In Europe, we teach content…but in Ghana, they also include the bigger meaning of life, the community feeling, and the drive for innovation.”
In only two weeks, a plan was created including a recommendation on restructuring the iTeach program to increase its effectiveness, heat maps highlighting which areas in Ghana should be prioritized, and an incentive program to help scale the initiative without the burden of increased costs. Wolfgang Fassnacht, an executive at SAP, commented on his experience, “Never underestimate the impact you can make. Everyone has something to give.”
Following up on the work of the executive team, DreamOval Foundation was chosen as a partner for the Africa Code Week initiative, which is led by SAP and aims to empower future generations with the coding tools and skills they need to thrive in the 21st century workforce and become key actors of Africa’s economic development. In addition, a second team with the SAP Social Sabbatical for global engagement joined DreamOval Foundation in October 2016, and was given four weeks to carry forward the work initiated by the executive team in April. With a little more time, the team composed a detailed plan that would help iTeach move closer to its ambition of bringing ICT training to all teachers in Ghana. Recommendations included expanding the program using freely accessible massive open online courses, measuring impact and success, and finding partners DreamOval Foundation could work with to extend its mission further.
To accelerate the size and scope of the iTeach program, the SAP team restructured DreamOval’s program to become a two-day basics course followed by a three-day advanced course. Teachers who complete the basics program and pass their knowledge on to three additional teachers receive a special certificate and enrollment into the advanced program. This small change makes it possible to reach far more educators without requiring additional resources.
“The impact of our engagement with SAP team has been transformational and an eye opener for the team. It’s given us an opportunity to relook at our training strategy from a different perspectives and to help us scale…in the long term we will expand the program to reach more teachers and pupils to transform Ghana for good.”
DreamOval Foundation, Accra, Ghana
Complementing the work around the training program, the team with SAP Social Sabbatical also supported DreamOval in implementing Africa Code Week, resulting in training 500 teachers and teaching 51,700 young people in Ghana basic coding skills.
“My favorite time in Ghana was our field visits where we met teachers and students,” says Francois Planckart, SAP Social Sabbatical for global engagement team member. “Field visits were very important so we could better understand their challenges. When we left the classroom, the children started singing in front of us, which was extremely emotional.”
Africa has the highest concentration of young people of any continent. Ghana’s youth, at 57% of the total population, is slightly ahead of the curve compared to its neighbors. As Ghana looks to benefit from digitization to solve issues in the public domain and gain competitive advantage in the private sector, it will be able to rely on the many students who will graduate from school with more ICT knowledge thanks to the iTeach program. With aspirations of building an ICT training center to train more teachers year round and bringing the iTeach program to other African nations, the foundation is dreaming big and SAP is happy to help.
Prior to the SAP Social Sabbatical partnership with DreamOval Foundation, approximately 60 teachers each year successfully completed the one–week ICT program. After adopting some of the proposals from the SAP Social Sabbatical for executive engagement, more than 360 teachers will receive their certificate of completion within 2017. And now DreamOval, the parent company of the DreamOval Foundation, is also a business partner with SAP as a result of the relationship developed through SAP Social Sabbatical and Africa Code Week.
“Observing the response and impact of a change to the program over the last 10 months with the collaboration with SAP has been tremendously encouraging and transformational,” says Francis Affoh of the DreamOval Foundation. “It is a sign of the progress we can expect many more teachers to benefit from the free ICT program.”