Winning Start recruits young university graduates to join a volunteer, student-support crew that is deployed to selected primary schools. Using comprehensively-tested materials developed in conjunction with Uwezo and Zizi Afrique, these youth volunteers work with students in grades two and three to gauge individual learning levels, cluster learners into level-learning groups and deliver regular, interactive, level-appropriate sessions tailored to students’ competency rather than their age.

As part of the program, youth volunteers simultaneously receive opportunities to improve soft skills such as communication, problem solving, work ethic and time management, as a way to enhance their employability. Some preliminary studies—e.g. in Colombia, Kenya, Argentina, the Dominican Republic—suggest a positive, causal relationship between transferable skills and employment outcomes but this research area is nascent and the existence of competing claims in available literature means no definitive relationship can be asserted at this time. However, hoping to contribute to the emerging evidence base, Evidence Action has identified the professional skills that employers consider most valuable and has developed the professional development component of the program to motivate volunteers.