We are very excited to announce that Dignitas has been awarded a 2020 WISE Award for our Stawisha Instructional Leadership Institute.  Six innovative projects addressing global educational challenges have been honored from 625 applications with the announcement of the 2020 WISE Awards winners. The WISE Awards, created by the World Innovation Summit for Education – a Qatar Foundation initiative – aims to highlight projects that have demonstrated impact in their communities and have the potential to set international standards and best practices worldwide.  We are honored by this recognition, and look forward to the opportunity to deepen our impact so that all children can thrive and succeed.

Deborah Kimathi, Executive Director of Dignitas Project, commented:

Every child deserves an excellent education. Great school leaders transform student opportunities, even when faced with disruption and complexity. Stawisha Instructional Leadership Institute was created to equip and support great leaders so that every child can gain the skills and strength of character they need to thrive and succeed.”

Watch this awesome video of Stawisha Instructional Leadership Institute that the WISE team put together!

Here’s what Deborah had to say as she received the award on behalf of the Dignitas team, board and all the amazing Stawisha School Leaders!  You can watch the Awards ceremony here.

My journey with Stawisha started late 2017 as I joined Dignitas as the new Executive Director.  Dignitas itself was at an interesting point in its journey, with its Co-Founder having just stepped down from the role.  I faced a two-fold challenge of leading the team to refine Stawisha for scale and growth in a manner that deepens impact, and secondly, the challenge to bring new partners and funders on board who would invest in that growth.  At the time, it was costing us approximately $82 per child per year to implement Stawisha through school partners, and our School Support team of 4 were supporting just 21 schools.


Two years later, it costs us just $12 per child per year and we have a team of 6 supporting 120 schools!  How?  Well, we took 4 key steps:


  1. Refocus the vision – we spent time making sure that, as a team, we were united and had clarity of vision. We revisited our assumptions about the problems we were trying to solve, we revisited our values, we restated what we believe our solution needed to achieve.  
  2. Identify what really works – around this same time, we had an external evaluation conducted. Our vision statement is that ‘every school should be a vibrant place for all children to thrive and succeed’ and our big question was; ‘What drives the most impact for learners?’  The evaluation was pivotal in informing questions about critical levers of change, and helped us to understand where we should focus our resources.  With this in mind, we were able to refine Stawisha from a 2 year institute that tackled 7 broad domains, to a 1 year institute that went much deeper on 3 critical domains that would be sure to transform learning.
  3. Drive efficiency – across the organization, we sought out ways to integrate technology, leverage collaborations, and streamline processes so that our operations were as cost and time efficient as possible. Everything from partner school outreach, to data collection and analysis was strategically considered with this in mind.
  4. Grow networks – I truly believe that we are stronger together. In a world that so often pushes us to compete with other actors, our approach was to collaborate.  We established partnerships that were focused on what we could learn and achieve together by understanding and complementing each other’s strengths.

What did we learn in this process?


“The route to resilience is agility, and the foundation of agility is a laser focus on vision.” 

These are lessons that have served us immensely well amidst all of the chaos of 2020.   As a result, we’ve been resilient in the face of constant change and complex uncertainty.  Our latest report shows that 98% of our school leaders have gained new competencies in 2020, and have in turn equipped 97% of parents to support learning at home.  As a result, they have curbed learning losses, reduced parent and child anxiety and increased the amount of learning at home!

A huge THANK YOU to all who have been part of the Stawisha journey, and to those who have celebrated this win with us!  We are stronger together!