Dr. Kevin Wheeler brings a diverse private sector, science, and international development background to his role as Kaizen’s Chief Executive Officer. He has led Kaizen’s global work in governance, energy, environment, education, and economic growth and is experienced in organizational development, incentive-based business models, financial innovation, and building communities of practice. Kevin holds a BS in geology from Brown University, a Ph.D. in Petrology from Columbia University, and has studied Arabic at the University of Damascus in Syria.
Learning Links Liberia
Learning Links focuses on at-risk girls who are forced out of school due to pregnancy and the 20% of Liberian women who are literate and numerate and serve as tutors for the out-of-school girls. Learning Links uses a gig economy business model, mobile technology, and real-time data analysis to provide the “Lyft” of learning in rural Liberia.
Liberia has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the world: 31% for 15-19-year-olds. The rates are higher in Bong County where about half of all teenage girls have given birth or are pregnant. Pregnant girls often quit school, fall behind academically, face difficulty re-enrolling, and find themselves and their children further trapped in cyclical poverty. The Ministry of Education lacks an avenue for dropouts to continue their education and return to school; Learning Links fills this gap.
Learning Links is an innovative model that taps into an existing and underutilized teaching resource: the 1 in 5 literate and numerate women in Liberia. Learning Links uses a gig economy business model, mobile technology, and real-time data analysis to guide, monitor, and reward teaching and learning in small groups.
Learning Links recruits and tests literate and numerate women in Bong County, Liberia to serve as Tutors to girls who quit school (Learners). Tutors train in the Government of Liberia’s Alternative Basic Education Curriculum and use daily SMS-based evaluation questions that the program uses to track progress and provide Learners with participation and performance-based micropayments. Learners work with the program to create individualized learning plans to re-enter school or vocational training using their micropayments to supplement school fees. Thus, girls increase their literacy and numeracy skills, and underemployed Tutors receive modest compensation based on Learner’s performance and participation.
The “demand” for this model is immense – nearly 1 in 5 children worldwide are out of school. Likewise, the “supply” is great, even in low-literacy areas, there are almost always functionally literate adults who are under-employed and eager to contribute to their communities. Learning Links efficiently connects local supply and demand. At present, Learning Links has served over 2,500 Learners in 38 communities in Bong County.