What did we do in 2017? | Annual Report

It is time to tell you what we have been doing with the time, talent and treasure that we were privileged to steward in 2017.

To begin on a positive note, in late September 2017, the World Development Report 2018 entitled‘Learning to Realize the Promise of Education’. Its first main message echoed what Uwezo has been saying since 2009, that ‘schooling is not the same as learning.’ It is a singular achievement that this message percolated up from hundreds of thousands of households, encountered a chorus of skepticism and yet rose to take pride of place in the first World Bank flagship research report dedicated to education. We can confidently say that over the course of many years, together with our partners from around the world, Uwezo worked to deliver a heart-warming victory in the battle of the learning outcomes versus school inputs narrative. The global education reform agenda has a more widely-accepted, better-defined and more meaningful target – improved learning outcomes – around which to marshal its resources.

On the downside, the retreat in the political climate away from openness to more closed government intensified in 2017. Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania, have not been immune to these darkening clouds. In Kenya, official respect for independent institutions was degraded by the incumbent executive’s reaction to the Supreme Court’s annulment of the presidential election results of August 2017. In Uganda, the discourse surrounding the recent constitutional amendments was conducted in an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. Tanzania left the Open Government Partnership in mid-2017, and open debate continued being thwarted through the zealous enforcement of restrictive laws and regulations combined with, at times, deadly force both official and otherwise.

Anxious though we were, we swam against this current. We sought ordinary citizens’ views and amplified their voices. We enthusiastically offered detailed feedback on draft legislation and regulations. We challenged official declarations denying public education to pregnant teens. We brokered more open, direct and fact-informed conversations between citizens and officials.

Between the bookends of the victory and retreat, lies a rich tapestry of stories from the 36 initiatives we executed. We learned some exciting new things and nurtured new relationships. On the technical side, we saw that we could use our Sauti za Wananchi polling platform to uncover what parents’ value most in primary education. On policy engagement, we took the first step to work with the government to scale up an initiative. We convened a highly skilled group of researchers to help us reflect even more deeply on our ideas, evidence and effectiveness. And we learned how to rally together, as colleagues, to share the burden of resource limitations.

The current strategic period ends in December 2018, but we have already started to articulate a sharper mission for Twaweza to take forward from January 1, 2019. Elements of a refreshed mission include demonstrating how citizens can come together to collectively solve their problems, enabling citizens’ voices, interests and experiences to be heard and to be taken seriously in decision-making, and promoting open civic space conditions that enable citizens to speak and act in their collective best interests.

As with our 2016 report, this one is layered. It includes a simple summary of the progress we made in 2017, detailed stories of our achievements, stumbles and the lessons we drew, and a comprehensive accounting of the status of every activity we carried out.

Twaweza's financial statements are subjected to independent audit each year. Once approved by the Board, these are disclosed to the public. You can read the Audited Financial Statements for 2017 here.

The full 2017 Annual Report can be accessed here.


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