ALA considering mentoring sister schools, or sharing some of the lessons and strategies that have worked so well, in order to broaden its reach to more African students around thecontinent?
We get this question a lot, however our focus is actually not to expand. So much work stillneeds to be done, and a good leader is one that focuses on one thing and doing it very well.The African Leadership Academy is still not sustainable, for example 85% of our studentsare on scholarship. Therefore we need to work on perfecting our model.However, one way we could expand is opening regional campus, for example a campus inWest Africa, and East Africa. These would be ideally started by graduates of the academy,since they would have an understanding of how we do things.From a short-term perspective, one thing we could do is train teachers from other schoolsbased on our model. In addition, we could share our curriculum. Soon, we are planning tolaunch our own curriculum called the African Baccalaureate (AB). This is a curriculum for Africans, by Africans, with a strong focus on leadership and entrepreneurship.Finally, its important to note that what makes the African Leadership Academy successful isnot our facilities, but our philosophy and methodology. Opening a new campus with the samefacilities is expensive, and requires at least $30 – $50 million upfront. On the other hand,philosophy is free.
2. “Private schools for the Poor” is the title of an article that appeared in the Stanford Social Innovation Review in January. It talks about the success of affordable private education indeveloping countries around the world. Having been involved in education since your teenage days, especially as a school principal for a year before going to college, and now with the successful African Leadership Academy, what are your observations or thoughts onthe increase in affordable private schools? Do you think we are ready to let the private sector take care of our schools, or should it be more of a private-public-partnership?
First, the public school model is doing well and successful in some African countries. For example, some of our strongest students come from Kenya and Zimbabwe, where publicschools are good schools. Its not an either or approach, that is, public or private, that is mostimportant. Where the public school system is successful, it should be further strengthenedand we should learn from them. Where it isn’t, the private sector can then leverage privateeducation. In addition, a partnership between the two would be great since the private sector may offer new ideas and innovation that the public may lack.