By Emiko Perea
Great Places to School is a collective impact approach to education between four core partners: Global Peace Foundation, Standard Media Group, The Kenya Private Schools Association, and Trends and Insights for Africa (TiFA). Striving to improve the quality of learning in schools by subjecting them to a regular confirmation of competence as “great places to go to school,” the rigorous process provided by the initiative identifies and rates schools whose overall culture contributes to the development of a holistic student.
Outstanding schools were awarded at the Great Places to School Gala in April. The ongoing initiative pushes educational institutions, whether a large or small school, to create holistic environments for students. Building on the momentum, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Kenya took the next step in June to collaborate with IBM, gathering a team of University Software Developers to develop software for the next phase of the initiative.
In June, developers took a select group of students through IBM’s Design Thinking session. “Design thinking shouldn’t be controversial—it’s simply the idea that everyone on a team should be focused on their users, first and foremost,” said Mr. Wahome Gathondu, Africa Skills Initiative Manager at IBM, introducing design thinking to the students. “We built on that idea, adding strategies, tactics, and activities to create a framework that uniquely scales design thinking across teams of all shapes and sizes, whether they are co-located or widely dispersed.” The students learned how to address several challenges in the Great Places to School initiative, including how to interpret the challenge, break it down, and finally, design a solution.
Following up with their training, Ms. Diana Kwamboka, Education Director for GPF Kenya provided in-depth background and next steps for the Great Places to School initiative.
Called a “hack-a-thon,” different teams of students were able to showcase their approaches to the challenges before a panel of judges. The team that was voted as the winner was tasked with implementing the solution with the partners of the Great Places to School initiative, meeting on a weekly basis to report progress and ensure that the software continued to run smoothly.