Our story

Our journey from being formally established in 2016.

12 Mar, 2018

Our journey from being formally established in 2016. 


What inspired the creation (formation) of ESSA? 

Our founder’s experience on the ground in helping to build Warwick in Africa, a charity aimed at improving the quality of teaching and learning in its partner schools by supporting both students and teachers.  

ESSA's focus was informed by a series of workshops with young learners and teachers in schools across sub-Saharan Africa as well as speaking to different organisations working in education. 

The initial focus was on: 

  • Joining the education sector together  

  • Creating and finding knowledge and research on education 

  • Training and building the skills of educators and institutions 

As you can see from our work these first ideas are now a reality. 

How was ESSA established? 

There have been three clear phases so far: 

  • Seed funding and validating the model 

  • Raising significant start-up capital (with crucial start-up investment from the Robert Bosch Foundation). 

  • With an initial focus on Higher education, forming partnerships, raising project funding and starting work to prove the value that ESSA could bring. 

A set of principles to guide our work has driven progress and helped us to build the relationships necessary to start to establish ESSA for the long term. 

Why was the early emphasis on higher education? 

One of our most important principles has been to have a step-by-step approach. We are setting out eventually to contribute to education at all levels across sub-Saharan Africa, with many different characteristics and cultures.  

Higher education institutions are focal points for education in regions, they often train teachers, are close to the labour market, conduct research on education and influence national and regional policy. They are also a gateway to other parts of the education sector. 

Why has the focus broadened to Tertiary Education? 

The progress made with our first three projects has provided the platform, insights and relationships to take this next step.  

ESSA views the tertiary sector as including all post-secondary education, universities, colleges, technical training institutes, and vocational schools. Across the sector, there are some common opportunities and challenges in terms of demand for education, student access, links with labour markets, technology and strategic priorities of countries. 

What’s next? 

Our current priorities are to: 

  • Continue delivering our current work (access to education, quality of education and transition to work) 

  • Strengthen our presence in Africa to ensure that African evidence and data impact outcomes for young people. 

We have a huge amount more to do, but we hope you are inspired by our story so far. Let us know if you would like to know more or get involved with our work.