Transforming Education Together

Students at university in Kenya

Transforming Education Together

Who we are

We are a charity using evidence to improve education in sub-Saharan Africa.


High-quality education in sub-Saharan Africa enables young people to achieve their ambitions and strengthens society. 


Our mission starts by working with universities and colleges: using evidence to drive a dramatic improvement in education for young people. 

  • Why we exist

    The potential of young people in sub-Saharan Africa

    By 2050, Africa’s young population will increase by nearly 50%, and 450 million workers are projected to join the workforce in the next decade. 1/3 of the world's entire youth population will be in Africa, at a time when many countries' populations are aging (Gates Foundation, 2019).

    Quality education and jobs for the world’s largest youth population could lift millions from poverty and strengthen societies globally. But without these opportunities, the world faces the risk of migration and unrest.  ​

    Filling the knowledge gap

    Decisions should be taken based on evidence to maximise scarce resources and improve young people’s lives. ​

    ​Yet, there are big gaps in data and evidence about education for young people and its relevance for work. ​

    We do not know:​ ​

    • Where young people go after they leave university or college.​ ​

    • The number of university and college staff and academics needed to educate students.​ ​

    • The impact of COVID-19 on the financial strength of universities and colleges and their ability to teach. 

    This leads to low, badly targeted investment. We want to change this.

  • How we work

    Our work starts with harnessing the power of universities and colleges to transform Africa's future.

    • Colleges, universities, and vocational courses build young people’s skills for work and skills to be active citizens in their communities.

    • Colleges and universities are hubs for knowledge, driving evidence, and solutions for transforming society.

    • These institutions are the training ground for professionals; including teachers, education staff, and vital health workers.​


  • What we do

    We are building an evidence alliance for education.

    Our Approach:

    • Identify the biggest issues in tertiary education​, driven by the needs of young people, educators, and employers.  ​

    • Build influential partnerships with organisations that want to improve education in Africa and beyond.​

    • Understand what data and evidence is needed for change​. 

    • Turn data and evidence into action: finding practical solutions, maximising resources, and attracting investment.

    • Harness the power of Africa’s universities, colleges, and businesses to advocate solutions at scale​.

    • Improve education and increase work for young people in sub-Saharan Africa​.

    Our work is aligned to Sustainable Development Goals: ​Quality Education and Decent Work, and ​the Africa Union Agenda 2063

Lareba, a student at university in Accra, Ghana Photo: Lareba, a student at university in Accra, Ghana


Our values guide everything that we do.

We are:
  • Evidence-driven
    • We are driven by data and evidence to find what works best, building an evidence alliance for education in sub-Saharan Africa. 

    • Through gathering insights from those we work with – from students, to university leaders, employers and policy makers – we have something new to say and get the right results. 

    • We communicate clearly and with conviction, ensuring data and evidence can be used by those who need it. 

    • We act professionally, creating evidence-based solutions so that young people achieve their ambitions and society is strengthened. 

  • Solutions-focused  
    • We seek the highest impact for young people and educators in sub-Saharan Africa with the cost- effective funds we invest. 

    • We evolve quickly to ensure our work stays relevant for young people.  

    • We measure our results and useour resources efficiently, earning credibility with our partners and investors.   

    • We know that change takes time, we focus on solving complex but urgent issues to maximise the difference we make for people in sub-Saharan Africa. 

  • Strengthening trust
    • We are accountable to young people and educators in sub-Saharan Africa.  

    • We prioritise inclusion and see strength in working across different cultures. 

    • We strive to create supportive environments, building trust with the communities we work with.  

    • We work towards positive social change, telling our story with integrity and humility. 

    “ We love the idea that ESSA has been born out of teaching learners and training teachers in schools like ours. The idea that something so bold has been sparked and shaped by our views and those of the learners is inspiring. When the ESSA team says it puts Africans at the heart of all it does it really means it.” 

    Magdalene Mtwele - Mafiga Teacher School, Morogoro Tanzania

  • Always learning
    • We listen and learn from people’s first-hand experiences about education and work across sub-Saharan Africa. 

    • We bring fresh perspectives by joining-up those who share our passion to learn, through our practical step by step approach. 

    • Everyone’s opinion is valuable, we develop solutions through teamwork. 

    • We are not afraid to both succeed and to fail, learning through experience and our curious nature. 


ESSA is a registered charity (Registration:1166958) and is regulated by the Charity Commission. Our Board of trustees is focused on ensuring that we have the right strategy, resources and governance to fulfil our objectives. 

ESSA adheres to and agrees with the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) 'Charity Ethical Principles'.