Mon. Jun 17th, 2024

USAID-LEGO Foundation Partnership Call to improve Education & Learning Outcomes in Ethiopia


The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Mission in Ethiopia (USAID/Ethiopia), in partnership with The LEGO Foundation, is seeking applications from qualified entities to implement the Primary Education in Crisis Activity in Ethiopia through a Cooperative Agreement (issued by USAID) and a Partnership Agreement (issued by The LEGO Foundation).

This Primary Education in Crisis Activity in Ethiopia (the Activity) will meet children’s essential demand for education in Ethiopia. The Activity’s purpose is: Improved learning outcomes, wellbeing, and systems resilience for most vulnerable primary school age children affected by crises in Ethiopia. Achievement of this objective is an essential ingredient for Ethiopia’s long term stability and economic growth.

This Activity will benefit from the robust partnership between USAID and The LEGO Foundation, as it is designed to be co-funded from both organizations. In addition to co-funding, the Activity will draw on the extensive expertise of both organizations in foundational skills and playful learning.

Funding Information

  • USAID intends to award on Cooperative Agreement pursuant to this notice of funding opportunity. Subject to funding availability and at the discretion of the Agency, USAID intends to provide $25,000,000 in total USAID funding over a five year period. Subject to final approval, The Lego Foundation intends to provide up to $10,000,000 in total funding over a five year period (maximum).

Results Framework 

  • The purpose of this Activity is: Improved learning outcomes, wellbeing, and systems resilience for most vulnerable primary school age children affected by crises in Ethiopia. Progress and achievement of this purpose will be measured by improvements in learning outcomes – measured through assessments of children’s holistic foundational skills — for these most marginalized, lowest performing children. This Activity defines holistic foundational skills as including both:
    • Foundational skills: literacy, numeracy, social-emotional learning
    • Skills for playful learning: cognitive, social, emotional, creative, physical
  • Achievement of the purpose is dependent on success in the areas of the following three Intermediate Results (IRs)
    • IR 1: Improved federal and regional capacity to prepare for, coordinate and oversee play-based targeted instruction during acute crisis through to recovery
      • 1.1 Expanded federal and regional capacity for coordination of emergency education and recovery tasks
      • 1.2 Recognized standards for accelerated learning programs are more widely in use including:
        • Curriculum and active teaching methodologies
        • Teaching and learning materials
        • Examination and transition to mainstream classes
      • 1.3 Regional early warning systems have improved function to mitigate disruptions to learning and support educational continuity in the face of sudden crisis
      • 1.4 Teacher management and support systems strengthened to allow educators to use targeted instruction
    • IR 2: Educators, school and classroom environments, formal and informal, have improved capabilities to support children’s holistic foundational skills and wellbeing 
      • 2.1 Educators demonstrate increased use of play-based targeted instruction to support children’s holistic foundational skills and wellbeing, which has the following characteristics:
        • 2.1.1 Informed by regular assessments of children’s learning
        • 2.1.2 Utilizes existing teaching and learning materials
        • 2.1.3 Facilitated through accelerated learning programs where needed
      • 2.2 Educators have improved wellbeing and improved skills in play-based targeted instruction through participating regularly in peer learning and mentorship
      • 2.3 School leaders demonstrate increased support for targeted instruction, teachers’ wellbeing and continuous improvement
    • IR 3: Communities and caregivers have improved capabilities promote children’s holistic foundational skills, wellbeing, and resilience
      • 3.1 Out-of-school learners are identified and supported to enroll and be retained in learning at increasing rates
      • 3.2 School communities support improved referral pathways for at-risk children to access protection services
      • 3.3 School communities develop and implement improved action plans for school safety and children’s wellbeing
      • 3.4 Caregivers increase access and enable strengthened home- and community-based, play-based targeted instruction

Cross-Sectoral Linkages 

  • School Feeding 
    • While the Activity will not undertake school feeding interventions, USAID and the LEGO Foundation recognize the critical role school feeding plays in bringing children into school and retaining them through learning, especially during and after crises. The Activity will seek strong partnerships with new and existing school feeding programs in target areas. These will include Ethiopian government-run school feeding programs (at all levels of government) as well as U.S. Department of Agriculture’s (USDA) McGovern-Dole school feeding programs.
  • Child Protection 
    • The Activity has many overlapping desired outcomes with Child Protection programming, and thus will actively seek opportunities to coordinate with Child Protection programs, partners, and systems. This may include USAID- or LEGO Foundation-funded Child Protection programming, the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, and programs from other partners in Ethiopia. This collaboration and coordination will be essential for success towards the Activity’s objective.
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) 
    • Children spend a significant portion of their day at school, where WASH services can impact student learning, health, and wellbeing, particularly for girls and those who are living with disability. In addition to the necessity of water to maintain personal and environmental hygiene, reducing student dehydration in schools has been associated with improved cognitive abilities. Addressing the challenges faced in providing Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WaSH) facilities in Ethiopia’s nearly 45,000 schools is a high priority for the government since currently only 25% of schools have safe water supply facilities and only 60% have basic sanitation amenities.34 For these reasons, this Activity will seek to overlap with or forge partnerships with WASH programmes from USAID and other partners. This will contribute to children’s wellbeing and retention in learning.
  • Nutrition 
    • Malnutrition remains a major public health problem in Ethiopia, with long-ranging effects for children’s holistic foundational skills learning and wellbeing. According to the national food and nutrition baseline survey of Ethiopia, children undernutrition is among the highest in sub- Saharan Africa with stunting. Primary school children in Ethiopia face a high prevalence of wasting (17.7%), underweight (18.2%), and stunting (21.3%).
  • Health 
    • Health systems form a critical component of children’s wellbeing. The Primary Education in Crisis Activity will seek opportunities for coordination with health programming that could increase preparedness to respond to shocks and contribute to children’s holistic foundational skills and wellbeing. One example is USAID’s Health Resilience Activity, which focuses on creating a resilient local health system that can detect, prepare for, respond to, mitigate and minimize the negative consequences of disaster on health outcomes and primary health care. The Health Resilience Activity will strengthen the local capacity to manage outbreaks and other health shocks by engaging and coordinating with different stakeholders including the education sector, reinforcing surge capacity through youth and volunteer engagement; facilitating drills/simulation exercises tailored to the identified risks; and advocating for and supporting the mainstreaming of public health emergency management at all levels.

Strategic Considerations 

  • Climate Change 
    • Climate induced shocks and stressors such as floods, droughts and extreme heat adversely impact Ethiopia’s education system. Education infrastructure is eroded, school closures and forced migration disrupt learning environments and increase dropout rates, and warmer temperatures are detrimental to children’s learning35 and wellbeing. Moreover, marginalized populations such as girls and children with disabilities, and learners internally displaced suffer the most of this effect.
    • This Activity will approach climate change in two ways: (1) strengthen climate-resilient education systems that can provide quality education in the face of climate shocks and (2) nurture climate-resilient learners who have adaptive capacity to cope with climate change.36 Within the Activity’s Results Framework, interventions under IR 1 will have a strong focus on strengthening climate-resilient education systems, while interventions under IRs 2 and 3 will seek opportunities to integrate climate themes and topics in basic education content (curricula, textbooks, supplemental learning materials) to bring not only scientific knowledge but also attitudinal, behavioral change and readiness towards climate action.
  • Private Sector Engagement 
    • As part of the education and humanitarian ecosystem, private sector actors and market systems play a key role in leveraging resources and sustaining impact. Private sector engagement approaches will consider both local and foreign entities. For the education sector, the Activity will seek opportunities to partner with the private sector to fill gaps, address core challenges, and strengthen mutually beneficial outcomes wherever possible. By understanding private companies’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) and core business strategies, they can advance shared objectives in areas such as providing connectivity and technology solutions for teachers and students; school construction and renovations in conflict affected areas; co-financing learning materials; expanding education for children with disabilities through access to assistive devices and using educational technology to advance digital learning. Particularly at the country[1]level, collaboration may include direct or ancillary activities, such as procuring teaching and learning supplies from local vendors, co-sponsoring community level support for emergency education provision during crises, or coordination with or layering of recovery efforts following crises.
  • Conflict Sensitivity 
    • USAID/Ethiopia requires that partners take into account conflict dynamics in all programs in order to support the Mission’s overarching goal of building the foundation for a more stable, cohesive and resilient Ethiopia. In an effort to ensure interventions are conflict-sensitive, interventions must be designed, monitored, and periodically reviewed in light of the changing conflict dynamics to ensure that: a) they do not inadvertently create or exacerbate conflict; b) they factor in the possible impact of existing or potential conflict on staff, implementing partners and the activities themselves; and c) they seek appropriate opportunities to mitigate tensions and support or consolidate peace and reconciliation. The Recipient must take into account conflict dynamics and adhere to “do no harm” principles throughout implementation. Specifically, the Recipient must ensure the Activity will be implemented in a conflict-sensitive manner with upfront, while continuing contextual analysis and monitoring that informs intervention adaptations throughout the life of the program.
  • Sustainability and Local Solutions 
    • The Recipient will ensure sustainability and local ownership throughout implementation of the Primary Education in Crisis Activity. USAID and the LEGO Foundation expect that implementation will involve engagement of local implementing organizations as a member(s) of a consortium, in order to ensure interventions are strongly grounded in local solutions and communities. Furthermore, to ensure sustainability the Recipient will conduct advocacy, alongside USAID, to integrate lessons learned from successful approaches to learning into national and regional policies and plans.
  • Safeguarding 
    • Safeguarding refers to the prohibitions and actions necessary to prevent and respond to incidents of abuse, exploitation, and neglect perpetrated by implementing partners’ personnel across all sectors of an intervention or program. It includes systems and mechanisms established by organizations to ensure the safety of participants in the presence of staff or outside parties. Being accountable to the populations they work with is critical for designing activities and approaches that reach and include the voices of the most vulnerable and take into account gender, age, ethnicity, language, and special needs.
  • USAID and The LEGO Foundation Partnership 
    • This Activity will benefit from the robust partnership between USAID and The LEGO Foundation, both from co-funding as well as drawing on the extensive expertise of both organizations. USAID signed a global Memorandum of Understanding with The LEGO Foundation in 2020, after which the organizations formed a strong partnership in Ethiopia around early childhood development and pre-primary education. It has resulted in the co-funded and co-managed USAID LEGO Foundation Childhood Development Activity, which has the goal of: preschool children impacted by emergencies will be better prepared to achieve their full developmental potential and become more resilient individuals. The Primary Education in Crisis Activity will deepen this partnership.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Eligibility for this NOFO is not restricted for USAID funding. Eligibility for LEGO Foundation funding is restricted to non-profit entities or organizations officially recognized for the public benefit.
  • USAID, in partnership with The LEGO Foundation, welcomes applications from organizations that have not previously received financial assistance from USAID.
  • Faith-based organizations are eligible to apply for federal financial assistance on the same basis as any other organization and are subject to the protections and requirements of Federal law.

For more information, visit

By Chala Dandessa

I am Lecturer, Researcher and Freelancer. I am the founder and Editor at ETHIOPIANS TODAY website. If you have any comment use as email contact. Additionally you can contact us through the contact page of

Leave a Reply