Great expectations of the ALiVE Learning Community

By John Mugo, Mauro Giacomazzi, Devotha Festo and Samuel Otieno

The Assessment of Life Skills and Values in East Africa was launched on February 17th, in a covid-friendly online ceremony marking the start of a three-year project to document evidence and improve policy and practice.

Justice Mumbi Ngugi said: “The rot and lack of values is not just in our education system. In virtually every sector, both public and private, what motivates us and drives our actions is not what drove our parents and grandparents. Our greed, corruption and me-first approach to life has perhaps put some of us ahead, but for the most part, it has led to a tragic and regrettable regression in all facets of our lives, our economy, our health and education sectors. Indeed, our entire society has been blighted by the absence of values.”

ALiVE, as it is known, is a project of the Regional Education Learning Initiative (RELI) and has three areas of focus.

  1. Measuring transferable competences in context, and using task-based, one-on-one assessments. On this, the project aims at developing contextualized and open-sourced tools, and to use this to assess adolescents aged 13 to 17 years at the household level.
  2. Linking evidence to policy and practice. ALiVE seeks to use the large-scale evidence to influence public conversations with parents, teachers and youth.
  3. Collaborative learning, and rapid development of assessment capacities. ALiVE is a collaborative project of the Values and Life Skills (VaLi) thematic cluster of RELI, which brings together around 25 civil society organizations across East Africa, learning with and from each other.

The ALiVE Learning Community is designed as a platform open to all, for organizations and individuals who wish to learn and ‘get their hands dirty’ on assessing 21st Century competences. The assessment itself is designed as a learning process, where an expert in the field of Assessment of 21st century skills inspires and challenges local experts and RELI members to gain courage and just do it. The learning stage has three key questions:

  • understanding and defining life skills in context,
  • developing contextualized, task-based assessments,
  • extending evidence to inform public and policy conversations.

A unique feature of the ALiVE Learning Community is the layout of the learning process. The ALiVE Learning Community has two ‘rooms’ – the inner and outer rooms. RELI members and the selected government officers occupy the inner room – enjoying first priority to participate in the ALiVE processes, and obtaining facilitation to get out there and get the work done. The learning by doing, where the ‘inner-room’ members collaborate to create and use the assessment

In the outer room are other people, friends, from around Africa and globally, who are working on social-emotional learning, whole-child development, and other related initiatives.  Here, RELI and non-RELI members interact in a series of learning meetings (ALiVE LearnShops) to seek answers to the learning questions. They share their experience, challenges, and achievements, and more in particular on what works.

Combining this knowledge, members of the learning community get out there to learn and share, and amplify the ir voice through attending meetings and conferences, and through writing and publishing together.

The journey starts now. We welcome all friends to join the ALiVE Learning Community. Reach out to us, through or follow us on and Twitter: Alive_programme.

“Take nothing on its looks; take everything on evidence. There’s no better rule.” Charles Dickens, Great Expectations

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