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YALI and Trevor Noah Foundation celebrate new crop of Education Changemakers

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa (RLC-SA) and the Trevor Noah Foundation honoured a diverse group of 44 Education Changemakers representing 13 countries at a certification ceremony at Unisa on Friday 6, March 2020.

The certification ceremony comes after the leaders successfully completed an intensive four-week leadership development training programme for the education sector. The certification ceremony was attended by several representatives from USAID, the Trevor Noah Foundation, the University of South Africa and other programme sponsors who encouraged the leaders to use the tools, knowledge and skills they’ve acquired over the past few weeks to implement innovative projects to contribute to a better Africa.

Cristal Peterson, Deputy Director, Communication and Marketing at the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership and master of ceremonies at the event, highlighted stark data in the recent Global Education Monitoring Report which states that the population of children of primary school going age in Sub Saharan Africa grew from 41% in 2000 to 54% in 2017. In pondering whether African countries are on track to achieve SDG 4, Peterson expressed belief in the Education Changemakers’ ability to take on this challenge given the skills they garnered during their programme.

Education Changemakers as YALI participants are encouraged to network and collaborate with each other which Rebecca Krzywda, Deputy Mission Director, USAID Southern Africa reminded participants to do. She acknowledged how difficult it is to be a teacher but reminded them to rely on each other and the YALI Network for support when implementing their learnings. She encouraged them to keep in touch and stay connected. Professor Miriam Chitiga from Fayetteville State University who walked the four-week journey alongside the Changemakers echoed Ms. Krzywda’s sentiments. “I am the change I want to see, and I will find a network of likeminded (people) to help implement change”, she advised the graduates to take that with them as they return home.

Trevor Noah Foundation Executive Director Shalane Yuen remarked that teachers play a critical role in the success of a young person’s life and that they need as much counseling as the learners because they have to carry the weight of the learners’ trauma. This is one of many reasons the Trevor Noah Foundation is thrilled to be a collaborator and partner of this programme because it is driven by the founder’s vision for South Africa’s education system. Ms. Yuen ended by reminding the Education Changemakers that “your voice, your creativity and your achievements are validated.”

In her vote of thanks, Khanyisile Masikane, an Education Changemaker, from South Africa expressed gratitude on behalf of the 44 leaders to the partners for the skills and development opportunity afforded to them. She further challenged her fellow Education Changemakers to be brave in resolving the education challenges which have in the past proven to be difficult.

The ceremony concluded with a special video from Trevor Noah, founder of the Trevor Noah Foundation, congratulating the Education Change Makers for the successful completion of the training and motivating them to use the skills and knowledge to implement projects he is already excited to hear about.   


The Education Changemakers Leadership Training programme is a partnership between the YALI Regional Leadership Center Southern Africa and the Trevor Noah Foundation. The programme, housed at the Unisa SBL in Midrand, South Africa and ran from 10 February – 06 March 2020.

 The Education Changemakers programme aims to equip leaders in the education sector with the skills, attitudes and networks to elevate their contribution to a better Africa. Selected from a pool of 1996 applicants, these teachers, principals, education practitioners, and policymakers committed to making a greater impact in their communities by participating in the programme.

 The diverse group of young leaders, between the ages of 18 and 35, committed to a four-week intensive residential training programme where they were exposed to business and public management tools for the education sector. This will be followed by six months of post-graduate coaching and mentoring, continued professional development, networking, and collaboration opportunities.

The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) was launched by the United States of America Government as a signature effort to invest in the next generation of African leaders. Since its inception in 2015, the YALI RLC SA has transformed the lives of over 4,600 young African leaders directly, while the alumni initiatives have influenced thousands more. Since its establishment, the RLC-SA has been robustly supported by USAID, with additional fiscal and in-kind sponsorship provided by the Mastercard Foundation and Unisa, as well as a handful of global and regional academic, corporate and non-profit entities.

The Trevor Noah Foundation is a South African-based non-profit organisation that equips underserved youth with the educational foundation and opportunity to become resilient future leaders of South Africa. In its flagship Khulani Schools programme, it implements interventions in areas of learner skills development, teacher training and support, and infrastructure to ensure young people exit into viable learning options post matric.

* Submitted by Harry Ntombela

Publish date: 2020/03/09