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08 Jun 2022

Education Sub Saharan Africa partners with Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

Education Sub Saharan Africa (ESSA) is thrilled to announce its partnership with the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, backed by a commitment of US $1.5 million over the next two years. The aim is to improve access to evidence for transforming decision-making processes for early childhood development (ECD) in Africa. The financial 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.

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.

Dr Lucy Heady, ESSA Chief Executive Officer, commented on this development: ‘‘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.’’

Africa-based researchers conducting research on education and development for the youngest children in Africa and are interested in this project are encouraged to @ESSA_Africa on Twitter or send an email to

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