Great Idea

Increasing girls’ access to education through mobile and distance learning

  • Master trainer recording one of the Great Idea lessons
  • Students in class
  • Students following a course that is shown on the monitor in front of the class
  • Boy in front of the classroom


In the last decade the education sector in Afghanistan has seen major improvements. With still a long way to go, Butterfly Works was hired to improve girls’ access to secondary education.

Great Idea

Great Idea revolves around pre-recorded videos of (female) master trainers teaching saved on SD cards, that can be played anywhere in the country. Through a projector they can be viewed in schools. But they can also be taken home and played on a mobile phone for self-study or to reach out-of-school children. A mobile learning helpline stimulates interactive learning as students and teachers can ask questions to the master trainers. Combined with community and parent meetings on the importance of education, Great Idea turned into a great success.

Project development

A thorough research phase with stakeholders showed that a lack of quality education and lack of female teachers hinder girls’ access to education. To benefit the (girl) students, we needed to focus on teachers first. Workshops, rapid prototyping and short feedback loops have resulted in a tailor-made solution in which girls get a female role model, and motivated but underqualified teachers, get a master trainer to learn from.


Afghanistan (2013)


CHA (Coordination of Humanitarian Assistance), SMO (Saba Media Organization), Ustad Mobile, Oxfam Novib, Ministry of Education Afghanistan, Roshan telecom, community leaders, students and teachers from the Parwan province of Afghanistan.

Results so far

In three years the Great Idea test group has seen a significant increase in test scores. Across all subjects, girls’ test scores have increased 8 – 15%, and for boys between 5 – 10%. We also observed a decrease in student dropout rates, a recovery of drop-out students and the promotion of teachers to higher grades. The Ministry of Education, Provincial Education Department, community members and parents wanted to extend the project’s reach. The pilot was scaled up by including English lessons to increase youth´s job opportunities and by developing lessons for higher grades.


Do you want to know more about how we use our method in the projects? Download our white paper here.

If you are a company, foundation, design studio or working in the field of education and you think that the youth around you might benefit from Great Idea, please contact us.