Two Kenyans – Sara Ruto, former Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Education, and Snehar Shah, CEO of Moringa School – have been named as Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal 2023.
Founded last year by T4 Education and HP in collaboration with Microsoft, the Africa Education Medal was established to recognise the tireless work of those who are transforming education across the continent – to celebrate the stories of those who have lit the spark of change so others will be inspired to take up the torch. It is given to an outstanding individual who has demonstrated impact, leadership, and advocacy in the field of education.
Sara Ruto is the former Chief Administrative Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Kenya, and former CEO of the PAL Network – a South-South network of organisations in Africa, South Asia and Central America undertaking large-scale, citizen-led assessments and actions to improve foundational literacy and numeracy. Dr Ruto’s impact has been felt across her three decades in academia, civil society, and government.
As a CAS, she spearheaded teacher education reforms and supported the presidential directive to ensure a 100 per cent transition from primary to secondary school, with a focus on the hardest-to-reach and most marginalised children. She has also worked as a lecturer at Kenyatta University, a visiting professor at Hiroshima University in Japan, a teacher trainer, and a secondary school teacher.
Her work on education reform in Kenya saw her awarded the ‘Elder of the Burning Spear’ (EBS) Presidential Award in 2019. Dr Ruto’s name is synonymous across East Africa with the Uwezo learning assessment, the most comprehensive, independent household-based assessment of foundational literacy and numeracy competencies ever implemented in East Africa. The Uwezo initiative mobilised 25,000+ volunteers across three countries, assessing more than 1.5 million children.
The results catalysed national, regional, and global debate on whether being in school translated to learning and drove a shift from the Millennium Development Goals focus on access to the Sustainable Development Goals’ focus on learning outcomes. Uwezo assessment results are widely cited in flagship global publications including the World Bank’s 2018 World Development Report.
Snehar Shah is CEO of Moringa School in Kenya, a learning accelerator committed to closing the skills gap in Africa’s job markets by delivering transformative tech-based learning in Software Engineering, Data Science, Cybersecurity, and Product Design to jobseekers, before connecting them with local and international employers in need of talent. Shah is now scaling the EdTech company across Africa.
Since its inception in 2014, Moringa has enrolled 6,000+ students and graduated over 3,000 students of which 33 per cent are women with a target to reach 50 per cent women in the next three years. Shah places a strong focus on gender equality with women making up 67 per cent of the Board and 51 per cent of the staff.
Moringa School has been able to offer a viable alternative to students unable to afford to study at African universities and through its partnership with the Mastercard Foundation, it has provided scholarships to low-income students.
Shah has spearheaded a partnership with a leading boot camp in the US, Flatiron School, to provide its cutting-edge curriculum and tech training using a live learning model with African tutors. The training has been delivered in Kenya, Rwanda, Nigeria, Ghana, and Uganda – giving world-class education to African students at a fraction of the price US students would pay.
Moringa has been named among the Top Technology Pioneers by the World Economic Forum in 2021, Top 50 Edtech Bootcamps in Africa 2020 – 2022 by HolonIQ, and most recently received the LinkedIn award for Best Talent Provider in Sub-Saharan Africa 2023.
Mayank Dhingra, Senior Education Business Leader, Southern Europe, Middle East and Africa, at HP said: “My warmest congratulations to Sara Ruto and Snehar Shah on being named Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal 2023. Their tireless work to improve education stands as an inspiration to us all and I hope many others will follow in their footsteps to become leaders in the field.
“HP has a bold goal to accelerate digital equity for 150 million people globally by 2030. Only by joining forces and aligning with NGOs, government, educators and businesses can we truly improve the education environment. The Africa Education Medal brings together all those who are changing the face of African education, whose vital work deserves to be celebrated.”
Vikas Pota, Founder and CEO of T4 Education, said: “Africa’s teachers and school leaders, and its leaders of governments, NGOs and businesses, all play a crucial part in unlocking the continent’s potential through quality education. African education stands at a crossroads in the wake of the pandemic, but if leaders from across the continent in every field can work together then they can build the lasting change needed.
“I congratulate Sara Ruto and Snehar Shah on their achievements and I hope their success serves as a rallying cry for changemakers to come forward and make a difference.”
The Top 10 finalists for the Africa Education Medal are:
- Mary Ashun, Principal of Ghana International School, Ghana
- Laura Kakon, Chief Growth & Strategy Officer of Honoris United Universities, Morocco.
- Rogers Kamugisha, Country Director of Educate! Rwanda
- .Grace Matlhape, CEO of SmartStart, South Africa.
- Mary Metcalfe, former policymaker, and CEO of Programme to Improve Learning Outcomes (PILO), South Africa.
- Martha Muhwezi, Executive Director of FAWE, Uganda.
- Jean-Claude Nkulikiyimfura, Executive Director of Agahozo-Shalom Youth Village, Rwanda.
- Simi Nwogugu, CEO of JA Africa, Nigeria