Read the news coverage of the project here.

Offered as part of the Peoples Webinar Series hosted by IT for Health and Educations System Equity. Full recording available online.

This webinar discusses lessons learned from a novel online course that teaches leadership and organizing skills to community organizers.

LUKE JORDAN, Founder and Executive Director of Grassroot (South Africa)
KATLEGO MOHLABANE, Grassroot Community Builder and Facilitator (South Africa)
ALISA ZOMER, Assistant Director of MIT GOV/LAB (United States)

FRIDAY, JUNE 26, 2020
8:00 – 9:00 AM EST
Register online

Grassroot a civic technology organization based in South Africa launched a first-of-its-kind leadership development course over the messaging platform WhatsApp. The distance-learning course, Leadership through Storytelling, was designed to build the capacity of organizers for sustained community activism. In 2019, Grassroot piloted the course and collaborated with the MIT Governance Lab to conduct mixed-methods research on the effectiveness of the course content and its potential to advance long-term community organizing goals.

This seminar discusses WhatsApp as an e-learning platform and the possibility of reimagining social media platforms as a new avenue for advancing civic pedagogy and networking for long-term social movement building. Though additional iterations are required, initial results suggest that the WhatsApp course was able to connect grassroots organizers in a novel way that encourages learning and information exchange.



Luke Jordan is the Founder and Executive Director at Grassroot. Formerly at McKinsey in Johannesburg and Shanghai, the World Bank in New Delhi and advisor to municipal and national government in South Africa.

Katlego Mohlabane is a Community Builder at Grassroot and Facilitator for the WhatsApp course and is a self-taught digital marketer, graphic designer, and social activist. Katlego is a former Gauteng working group member within the Right 2 Know campaign.

Alisa Zomer is the Assistant Director at the MIT Governance Lab. Formerly, conducted policy research on environmental governance, international development, and justice and equity at Yale University and the World Resources Institute.

Grassroot is a civic technology organization that provides low-tech, low-cost tools for grassroots organizers working primarily with low-income groups in South Africa.

IT for Health and Educations System Equity was started by Dr. (Prof) Seble Frehywot and Dr. (Prof) Yianna Vovides. From the website: It stemmed from three simple visions. The first: that IT, in its various manifestations, can enhance equity for health and education systems, around the globe. The second: that artificial intelligence is propagating and, if embraced, it can be useful within our expertise areas; however, if we, as experts in health and educations systems equity, do not partner with those working on the ai algorithms, the ai solutions implemented in these spaces may be detrimental. The third: that more work/research needs to be done (including artificial intelligence based research) regarding various forms of e-pedagogy and e-andragogy to utilize e-learning as an equity tool for building Low and Middle Income Countries health and education systems.

Image borrowed from the IT fHESE website

June 26: E-learning via WhasApp - A collaboration between Grassroot and MIT in South Africa