Fostering an Innovation Network to Increase Access to Education in Emergencies
Humanitarian crises around the world have disrupted the education of millions of children. Within the first two years of the Syrian crisis, 150,000 education personnel had been killed, 2.1 million Syrian children were out of school, and one in four schools was either damaged, destroyed, or used as shelter or for military purposes. Compounding this challenge, girls are 2.5 times more likely to be out of school than boys in conflict-affected regions.
With funding from the MIKTA consortium, we, in partnership with OpenIDEO, and stakeholders across the education and humanitarian sector, designed and launched the Education in Emergencies (EiE) Challenge to catalyze new solutions in service of expanding educational opportunities in emergency situations, particularly for girls and the disadvantaged. Following the announcement of the challenge winners, we delivered a bootcamp for the cohort of runner-ups to build their skills, improve and measure the maturation of their early-stage businesses, and collectively access more than US $500,000 in additional financing.
The MIKTA consortium is an innovative, consultative partnership led by the Foreign Ministers of Mexico, Indonesia, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, and Australia. In 2016, Australia committed to taking the lead in running the EiE Challenge and committed AUD $2 million in prize funding. As part of the Innovation Resource Facility (IRF) within the Australian Government’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), we were asked to take the lead in designing this open innovation challenge.
Our approach included a “Design Sprint” and subsequent “Big Think” event in early 2017 to craft challenge statements, analyze the network ecosystem, and identify key objectives and goals for the EiE Challenge. Through the design and facilitation of these multi-stakeholder collaborations with 32 academics, innovation experts, international NGOs, and former students living in emergency situations, we enabled critical decision makers within government with key insights to prioritize aspects of the EiE Challenge required for its success (e.g., incentives for applicants, ideal innovators, types of innovations sought, issue framing, etc.).
Following the announcement of the seven challenge winners, we delivered a bootcamp for the cohort of runner-ups to build their skills, improve and measure the maturation of their early-stage businesses, and collectively access more than US $500,000 in additional financing. Additionally, we developed a comprehensive monitoring, evaluation, and learning (MEL) framework to provide additional guidance to innovators and to DFAT in the areas of prototyping, human centered design, impact assessment, storytelling, and more.
Since the close of the EiE Challenge, the Australian Government and OpenIDEO worked closely with the Challenge community to co-design the Education in Emergencies (EiE) Alliance: “a six-month open innovation network intended to support innovators, leverage resources and collaboration tools, and fuel ongoing innovation in this field.”