Mansoor,12, watches the virtual reality documentary ‘Clouds over Sidra’, outside a UNICEF-supported centre in the Za’atari camp for Syrian refugees, near the Syrian border.
Innovation does not just mean new technology. Educational innovation can be found in processes, services, programmes and partnerships. To be truly innovative, an intervention should:
- Improve learning, equity and systems
- Solve a real problem in a simple and clear way (be demand-driven)
- Match the scale of the problem it is trying to solve.
Some innovations do capitalize on new technologies – for instance, putting math lessons on durable tablets powered by open-source software for children in hard-to-reach areas in Sudan, or using SMS on mobile phones to identify bottlenecks that impede quality education for marginalized children in Peru.
Others draw on the creativity and experience of communities, such as a programme in Ghana that uses play to enhance young children’s learning and development.
Many innovators are already at work in schools, classrooms, communities and civil society organizations. UNICEF works to identify them, help them show their impact, broker partnerships, and transform the lives of the most marginalized children.
UNICEF, a catalyst for innovation
UNICEF is uniquely positioned to be a driving force in educational innovation.
Present in 190 countries, we can leverage our resources and global reach to find innovations, draw lessons, and share good practices. We can help adapt and expand successful interventions and approaches to reach the most marginalized children and improve learning outcomes for all.
UNICEF’s approach to innovations in education can be summarized in five steps:
- Scan – identify promising innovations in education
- Assess – select projects that build on experience, and work in a sustainable, cost-effective way
- Incubate – offer technical assistance, financing and support
- Evaluate the results and impact
- Share learning – from failures and successes alike
UNICEF collaborates with partners to systematically identify, assess and incubate promising innovations.
For example, in 2014, together with the Center for Education Innovations at Results for Development Institute (R4D), we selected a first round of innovations to spur changes in education systems and practices.
Read about Humanitarian Innovation Accelerator, a partnership of UNICEF, DFID and UNHCR that tackles education in emergencies through innovation. The programme supports innovative teams by providing resources for evaluation, mentorship, as well as opportunities for additional resources and new partnerships.
Read our report on Innovations in Education.
Learn about other innovations with this interactive map.