Emotional Education

Why did Gates Foundation choose Coschool?

By June 13, 2019 No Comments

Por: Henry May, CEO Coschool. 

As we kicked-off our project Edumoción Móvil last week in Urabá with 200 teachers, it has been exciting to get feedback from our partners about the program. Since last November, when we were named as one of 15 inaugural winners of the Misk Grand Challenge Prize, they and others have been asking me : “Why Coschool? How did you get selected? What’s the secret?”. Now, after several months of intense work getting ready for the launch, the vision of our project is starting to become a reality and I want to suggest three main reasons why Gates and Misk chose us:

Edumoción Móvil is completely coherent with global tendencies but connected to a deep local need.

There is a common understanding emerging across the world that the development of social & emotional skills is a non-negotiable for education systems as the fourth industrial revolution sweeps upon us. Intrapersonal skills such as self-awareness and determination sit alongside interpersonal skills of kindness and empathy as key assets for any human being looking to be happy and successful in the 21st century. The debate is now centered not on “which skills are important?” but on “how the heck do we get everyone to learn these skills”.

In Colombia, the urgency of developing such skills is greater than in many parts of the world due to the history of armed conflict; a chapter that the country is only just completing. The country has suffered from a lack of collective emotional well-being and now is a good time to start correcting that. Part of Edumoción Móvil’s operation specifically focuses on post-conflict areas of the country, like Urabá.

Our approach is based on 5 years of solid learning and experience on the front-line.

There’s a lot of hype and hot-air about Edtech and digital learning, right? We all know the stories of tablets getting sent out to schools without any type of training for their users and ending up as doorstops or simply gathering dust in the store-room. In Coschool, through five years of face-to-face training of students and teachers, we’ve gone deep in our understanding of users and what they need.

On top of that, we’ve rolled up our sleeves and figured out how to recruit great educators, how to build effective local partnerships with schools and local funders, and we’ve been driven primarily by quality instead of quantity. These battle scars put us in a strong position to get the operation of an ambitious program like Edumoción Móvil off the ground.

We are betting on a scalable approach and aiming for systemic change.

Having said that, the reason we applied for the Gates Grand Challenge grant is that we believe that this type of education shouldn’t be for a privileged few. And, unfortunately, many of the best education interventions continue to be incredibly expensive per user. That’s a challenge with many of Coschool’s programs.

Edumoción Móvil sets out, boldly, to be scalable and cost-effective from day one. By running large-scale bootcamps for 200 teachers at a time, we keep costs down. By providing teachers with most of their learning via a virtual platform, we keep costs down. The challenge is, of course, to keep quality high. We aim to do this by ensuring the most dynamic, engaging in-person training possible as part of the blended experience, and striving for the highest possible online content that teachers will love. Furthermore, our vision as an organization is not to just operate programs as they come, but to contribute to the national (and regional) improvement of whole public education systems. If Edumoción works at scale, we will lobby for it to become policy.

So far, so good. We look forward to launching in 5 other regions in August.

If you would like to ask me any other questions about applying for the grant, let me know?