August 03, 2022

Frugal innovation is key to advancing the UN’s Global Goal for education

The world needs tens of millions of new teachers by 2030, according to UNESCO – an order of magnitude that requires “frugal innovation.”


This article was originally published by Inter Press Service. An excerpt has been reposted below.

I’ve studied frugal innovation for more than a decade, and it holds a vital key to this global challenge. A model created by BRAC in Bangladesh deserves special attention in this worldwide pursuit.

Frugal innovation is not innovation on the cheap. Rather it’s innovation that is designed from the outset to be affordable, scalable – and better performing than traditional models. That’s why it’s so important to achieving UN Sustainable Development Goal 4, which is to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.”

That goal requires that education be both universally available and able to meet quality standards. It must, therefore, be affordable, or it won’t be scalable globally.

The key to BRAC’s approach to providing education at scale was not new infrastructure, but a new mindset. Indeed, the hallmarks of the BRAC approach were more or less exactly those we had written about in our book Jugaad Innovation: it was all about being frugal, flexible and inclusive. It was all about lateral thinking and working backwards from a deep understanding of the problem as faced by the people in the communities being served. And it was all about empowering those communities to be part of the solution.

Read the rest of the article here.