From the Classroom to the Boardroom: Dinah Achola's Journey to Making a Difference in Rural Communities.

Meet Dinah Achola, a Teach For Uganda alumnus and a dynamic and driven Customer Success Manager at Skizaa, a Kenyan Ed-tech start-up looking to digitize classrooms in Africa through simple attendance management systems.

With a background in Business Computing and a passion for making a difference in the lives of learners, Dinah has taken her experiences as a Fellow with Teach For Uganda and turned them into a powerful tool for success in her current role.

In this interview, Dinah shares her journey and the valuable insights she gained while a Fellow at rural Kigandalo Primary School, Mayuge district in eastern Uganda, as an experience that has prepared her to excel in her current role as a Customer Success Manager at Skizaa. 

She reveals how her time with Teach For Uganda helped her hone her people management skills, gave her a first-hand understanding of the types of innovations teachers need, and how she was able to overcome the challenges she faced. Moreover, Dinah shares how her experience with Teach For Uganda informs her approach to working with customers and ensuring their success, and how she is utilizing her skills and knowledge to create tailored education solutions that meet the specific needs of customers, particularly in rural areas. 

Join us as we dive into Dinah's fascinating story and learn how her passion for education is making a real impact.

Can you tell us about a specific experience during your time with Teach For Uganda that prepared you for this role as a customer success manager?

During my time with Teach For Uganda, I had the opportunity to take on many responsibilities, including representing my cohort. This experience helped me develop my people management skills and provided me with a firsthand understanding of the types of innovations that teachers need to improve their everyday efficiency. These experiences have prepared me well for my current role as a Customer Success Manager at Skizaa, where I am responsible for ensuring that our product meets the specific needs of our customers.

How did your Fellowship with Teach For Uganda shape your understanding of the education system in rural areas?

My fellowship with Teach For Uganda provided me with a deep understanding of the disparities in the quality of service delivery in rural areas. I was able to witness firsthand the differences in resources and support available to learners in these communities, which highlighted the need for a concerted effort to improve literacy outcomes and bring attention to the issues facing rural education.

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Achola Dinah in a classroom in 2021 testing out Skizaa's classroom attendance app in rural Kigandalo Primary School.

Can you share a specific example of a challenge you faced while working with Teach For Uganda and how you overcame it?

One of the biggest challenges I faced while working with Teach For Uganda was managing the large class size. After the massive mobilization of learners returning to school after lockdown, monitoring and tracking the progress of my learners was a difficult task due to the number of learners in my class. To overcome this challenge, I worked with Skizaa to develop a multipurpose mobile application that allowed teachers to track their learners' progress and generate informative data that was critical in making decisions about their education.

How did your experience with Teach For Uganda inform your approach to working with customers and ensuring their success?

My experience with Teach For Uganda taught me the importance of understanding the specific needs of my customers and tailoring solutions to fit those needs. For example, the differentiated learning methods that I regularly used with my learners taught me the importance of providing specialized support to my customers. This approach is one that I continue to use in my current role as a Customer Success Manager, by making inquiries with customers and understanding their current challenges before providing solutions that work for them.

How do you plan to apply the skills and knowledge you gained through your fellowship to your new role as a customer success manager?

I plan to apply the skills and knowledge I gained through my fellowship with Teach For Uganda to my role as a customer success manager by using my experience, knowledge, and understanding of the challenges that our customers face to create customized solutions that meet their needs. Additionally, I will use my knowledge of the unique challenges that rural areas face in terms of access to education to create solutions that are tailored to meet the needs of rural schools.

How do you plan to ensure that our organization remains effective in addressing the unique challenges that rural areas face in terms of access to education?

I plan to work with the organization to ensure that our education solutions are effective in addressing the unique challenges that rural areas face by collaborating with other stakeholders in education and advocating for the adoption of best practices. Additionally, I will work with the monitoring and evaluation team to establish an iterative process that evolves and adapts over time to meet the changing needs of rural education.

How do you plan to measure and evaluate the success of our education solutions in terms of improving learner outcomes?

I plan to measure and evaluate the success of our education solutions by analyzing the data provided by the Skizaa offline application. This includes tracking student progress and performance, as well as monitoring the ease of use and speed of data access for teachers. Additionally, I will gather feedback from teachers and administrators to gain insights into the effectiveness of our solutions in improving student outcomes. By regularly reviewing and evaluating this data, we can ensure that our education solutions are having a positive impact on student success.

Can you tell us about a project you led during your fellowship and how it contributed to the overall goal of improving access to quality education for all learners?

During my fellowship, I led a project aimed at training teachers on digital skills and how to maximize the use of digital solutions in their classrooms. The goal of the project was to close the digital gap that exists in rural and underserved communities and provide real-time data from last-mile schools. Through research, interaction, and collaboration, we ideated, developed and deployed a school management app optimized to function offline. This app was designed to curb unreliable and expensive internet connectivity while being very easy to use as technophobia is prevalent in rural communities. This project contributed to the overall goal of improving access to quality education by providing teachers with the tools and skills they needed to effectively use technology in their classrooms and support student learning.

How do you plan to stay informed about the latest developments and innovations in the education sector, particularly in Africa and beyond?

I plan to stay informed about the latest developments and innovations in the education sector by strengthening and expanding my professional networks through virtual and physical events. I will focus on gaining a deeper understanding of the education systems in focus areas like Uganda, Nigeria, Kenya, and Zimbabwe, but will also expand to new horizons. I will engage in dialogue with administrators and teachers to stay updated on emerging systemic hurdles. Additionally, I will attend relevant education conferences and workshops, and seek out and engage with thought leaders and experts in the field, both within Uganda and beyond.