21 Dec, 2021

Season's greetings and thank you from ESSA

By: Dr Lucy Heady, Chief Executive Officer, Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA).


Dear Friends,

As 2021 draws to a close, we would like to thank you for your support and partnership over the last year. It was a special year for us as ESSA turned five years old. We celebrated with our 5th Birthday Report, showcasing the highlights from the last five years and setting out our vision and strategy for the next five years with the ambitious goal of reaching over 1.4 million students in 500 universities and colleges in Ghana, Kenya, Uganda, and Zambia.

Other highlights for me included:

1. Our conference with the REAL Centre, University of Cambridge on Action on Funding for African-led Education Research brought together approximately 300 education stakeholders from Africa and beyond. Read the practical recommendations to support African Researchers that emerged from the conversation.

2. The launch of our ground-breaking Women Leading report to debate women in leadership as informed by evidence and provide actionable recommendations. We are now working with many direct-action partners to develop evidence to address the challenges of increasing women’s representation in higher institutions and beyond.

3. Deepening our work on faculty challenges in Ghana in partnership with the Ghana Tertiary Education Commission and expanding this work to the East African Community. We are delighted to be working on this expansion again with the Association of African Universities and the Population Reference Bureau and welcoming a new partner – the Inter-University Council of East Africa.

4. Building momentum for our work on employability and working with the Education Collaborative to move from evidence to practice ensuring universities and colleges help young people transition into employment.

5. Rounding off the year by attending the RewirEd Summit hosted by Dubai Cares, my first in-person meeting since the COVID-19 pandemic. Read more about our panel that brought together young people, educators, employers and policy-makers to ask, ‘What is the point of tertiary education?’

One of ESSA’s values is strengthening trust and we put partnerships at the heart of everything we do. It has been a privilege to expand our partnerships. We are proud to have worked with UNHCR, Quilt.AI, Carnegie Corporation of New York, International Development Research Centre and Imaginable Futures for the first time this year.

In 2022, we will seek to build on these successes, strengthening our presence in Africa by establishing a legal entity in Ghana to ensure that African evidence and data impact outcomes for young people. All of this was pushed forward by our small but committed team distributed across the UK, Ghana, Kenya and Germany.

Finally, I would like to personally thank each of you for your support and your contribution to our work this year. We could not achieve any of this alone. At ESSA, we are ‘Always Learning’ and so if you have a spare moment before Christmas, please take a moment to complete our Annual Survey. Share with us what you like and where we could do better.

I hope you enjoy the festive break whether you are spending time with family and friends or enjoying some quiet time. I know I am looking forward to switching off from the news and catching up on some reading. I wish you all a peaceful holiday season and a prosperous New Year.  


Lucy  Heady



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