Joint Press Release: Education Sub Saharan Africa Welcomes Partnership with Conrad N. Hilton Foundation Towards Improving African Research Evidence

03 Jun, 2022

Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) is thrilled to announce its partnership with Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, backed by a commitment of US $1.5 million over the next two years, to transform decision-making processes for Early Childhood Development (ECD) in Africa. 

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation’s commitment will support ESSA’s research project in collaboration with the Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre at the University of Cambridge, UK. The financial commitment will ensure greater awareness and investment in research conducted by Africa-based researchers about education and development for the youngest children in Africa. 

Despite high quality research from the Global South, the availability of African-led research is limited for ECD. While African researchers have expertise in local systems and challenges, they often remain an untapped resource within knowledge ecosystems. This funding will help to ensure that evidence informs local investment, policy, and practice in Africa. 

The project targets Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda with some early scoping work in Mozambique. ESSA and the REAL Centre will map the landscape of ECD research to include the first 1,000 days of a child’s development (0-3 years) with a focus on education and its intersection with areas such as play activities, health and nutrition.  

Evidence from the study will be used to bridge the gap between African researchers and various decision-makers such as funders, policymakers and practitioners. Beyond the continent, evidence from this project will foster South-South collaborations and facilitate connections with researchers in other geographic regions in and/or outside Africa. 

“We know that the early years are a vital time for children’s development and that interaction between parents and/or caregivers and children through play and stimulation is of great importance. However, we do not know enough from African researchers about this critical stage and how to improve the provision of services for this age group in their local settings.”, said Dr Pauline Essah, Director of Research and Insight at ESSA. “Action must therefore be taken now, to ensure that evidence from African researchers is incorporated when decision-makers develop and implement important local policies and practices.”  

“The REAL Centre is happy to continue partnering with ESSA to build a strong network of researchers working on education in sub-Saharan Africa, including those specialising in ECD. In 2017, we collaborated to build the African Education Research Database (AERD) that now contains over 4,000 peer-reviewed publications on education, produced by African education researchers,” said Professor Pauline Rose, Director, REAL Centre. “We will use funding from the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation to support Africa-based education and ECD scholars in ensuring their research is more visible and accessible both through the database and by mapping available research evidence to transform ECD.” 

Commenting on this development, Dr Lucy Heady, ESSA Chief Executive Officer said: ‘‘As part of the broader focus, this funding will address challenges faced by Africa-based researchers focusing on ECD. This includes securing funding for ECD work and barriers to publishing their work to influence policy and investment decisions. This funding has come at an opportune time when ESSA is registering in Ghana, to strengthen its commitment to the continent. It is an opportunity to engage further with policymakers, research institutions based in Africa, and African researchers themselves – contributing to the improvement of ECD.’’ 


About the Implementing Partners  

Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) | www.essa-africa.org. Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) is a charity founded in 2016. Our vision is high-quality education that enables young people in sub-Saharan Africa to achieve their ambitions and strengthens society. ESSA’s mission starts with universities and colleges. Driven by the needs of young people, ESSA join up leaders (e.g. educators, funders, policy makers) and provide them with the data and evidence they need to make good decisions and change the system. 

Twitter: @ESSA_Africa.  

Media inquiries: Izel Kipruto, Head of Communications. Contact: izel@essa-africa.org  

The Research for Equitable Access and Learning (REAL) Centre, University of Cambridge | www.educ.cam.ac.uk/centres/real. The REAL Centre pioneers research into overcoming barriers to education, such as poverty, gender, ethnicity, language and disability, and promotes education as an engine for inclusive growth and sustainable development. 

Twitter: @REAL_Centre. 


About the Funder  

Conrad N. Hilton Foundation | www.hiltonfoundation.org. International hotelier Conrad N. Hilton established the grantmaking foundation that bears his name in 1944 to help people living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage worldwide. Today, the work continues, concentrating on efforts to ensure healthy early childhood development and sustainable livelihoods for youth, support young people transitioning out of foster care, improve access to housing and support services for people experiencing homelessness, identify solutions to safe water access, and lift the work of Catholic sisters.

Additionally, following selection by an independent, international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to an organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. The Foundation is one of the world’s largest, with approximately $8.5 billion in assets. It has awarded grants to date totaling more than $2.4 billion, $339 million worldwide in 2021. 

Twitter: @hiltonfound.