Right now, 9 out of 10 children in sub-Saharan Africa cannot read with understanding. A global learning crisis, exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, threatens to stifle the potential of millions of boys and girls who currently lack basic reading and mathematics skills.
To rally government investment for this crisis, Pentagram partnered with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and a cadre of global education advocacy groups to design a new campaign raising urgency for what’s known as “foundational literacy and numeracy.” The campaign, complete with messaging, visual assets, and a keynote film, targets government ministers, policy experts, and NGO leaders across sub-Saharan Africa with the goal of centering the urgency of early education amongst a bevy of competing priorities.
Following a comprehensive review of academic literature and workshops with various experts in the space, Pentagram developed the campaign line, “Learning changes everything,” to underscore the catalytic potential of education investment for children. The line can be modified for multiple scenarios, such as “Learning changes infant mortality,” or “Learning changes gender equality,” to continuously show education’s impact on all aspects of a child’s life.
To visualize these scenarios, Pentagram then worked with illustrator Alleanna Harris to design a suite of school children characters and help humanize the potential for foundational literacy and numeracy. The illustrations root the data-driven campaign in human emotion, ingenuity, and possibility, linking policy objectives to real-world outcomes for millions of boys and girls around the world.
The centerpiece of the campaign is a 90-second film that follows a hypothetical young girl, Abeo, through the stages of her life. Using a graph’s axes as a metaphor for progress over time, the viewer is shown how her life improves if foundational literacy and numeracy are part of her education—leading to a higher quality of life and happiness. Additional campaign assets, such as handouts, presentation slides, and shorter animations, support the film’s main messaging with secondary points.
The assets are all brought together in a toolkit, including a guidelines document, to support local education nonprofits in disseminating the campaign with their constituents. The Pentagram team also supervised the translation of assets into both French and Kiswahili, and the creation of alt text for the imagery.