Creating Tomorrow’s Changemakers

UNISOLVE builds skills while inspiring young people to become transformative leaders. This game-changing approach to skills development is ready for expansion.

A girl smiles among a crowd of her peer at a school in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, India.
13 January 2022

Young people are the future. They will eventually drive economic and social development around the world. Tomorrow is in their hands. However, most adolescents aren’t able to build the skills they’ll need to rise to the opportunities and challenges ahead of them. Young people across the globe graduate from school with only very basic skills. In many countries, schooling focuses on literacy and numeracy. Practical, job-related knowledge is missing from most education systems. But how are students supposed to get the skills they need to participate in the workforce and take on the social challenges of tomorrow?

UNICEF’s UNISOLVE is working to address this gap. UNISOLVE is a digital platform that helps young people develop the critical skills they need. UNICEF works with governments to incorporate the platform into national education systems, encouraging real-world skills development while inspiring young people to find a sense of purpose. The aim is to develop self-sufficient, highly employable individuals—graduates with practical skills and knowledge.

So how does it work? Students join as a team and complete a self-paced interactive online curriculum. Then, while supported by a teacher, they put their newly acquired knowledge into practice. They identify problems in their communities and develop solutions to address them—applying research, prototyping, and iterative design methods throughout the process. The course culminates with a “pitch”, where students present their solutions for a chance to receive seed funding.

UNISOLVE has shown promising results in India. Initially piloted in 4,000 schools—where nearly 25,000 students gained skills to help build their futures—the project has already expanded to more than 10,000 schools. And it continues to grow quickly, reaching thousands of additional students. In one school, Shravani Archana Vitthal Rajguru and her team created a radio-based teaching service that allowed young people without internet to learn from home. Shravani acquired research, design, and presentation skills while conceptualizing the idea. UNICEF eventually provided seed funding to bring her invention to life.

“UNISOLVE provides participants with an opportunity to put concrete skills into practice—young people invest themselves in developing solutions for the problems they identify in their communities.”

Herve Morin, Global Lead with the UNICEF Office of Innovation.
A girl listens to her teacher at her school in Chandrapur, Maharashtra, India.

UNISOLVE’s groundbreaking approach to skills development gets young people thinking in a whole new way. They go on a self-paced journey, investigating, learning about, then solving problems in their communities. Through this process, youth develop skills related to critical thinking, creativity, problem-solving, and empathy. This approach is based on proven UPSHIFT methodologies. UPSHIFT started in 2014 and, at its core, is a highly adaptable social innovation and entrepreneurship programme focused on skills development for young people. It aims to build real-world skills, ultimately inspiring positive changes in young people and their communities. UPSHIFT has supported more than 2.2 million adolescents and young people across 42 countries through several different innovations, including UNISOLVE, which is one of the most promising ways to integrate UPSHIFT into national education systems.  

UNISOLVE allows UPSHIFT to be rolled out at scale through schools—and it does this quickly and efficiently. For governments, UNISOLVE is a fast way to expand learning opportunities and showcase tangible results in a very public and relatable manner. Impacts are seen in a matter of months. UNISOLVE’s digital approach keeps costs low while allowing schools to participate with minimal managerial or administrative support. It also reduces the need for teachers throughout the learning process—resources are available in local languages, 24 hours a day, on any compatible device.

Many governments are interested in working with UNICEF to incorporate UNISOLVE into their education systems. In fact, there are plans to roll out UNISOLVE in additional states in India and in new markets, like Bhutan, the Maldives, and Vietnam. The innovation is expected to reach eight million adolescents and young people in these areas, but could be expanded even further. UNICEF estimates that a global rollout could reach more than 40 million young people. Young people urgently need skills and empowerment opportunities. UNISOLVE has the power to uplift youth across the world—it’s time to expand this groundbreaking approach to skills development.

UNISOLVE is part of the Learning Innovation Portfolio at UNICEF. The Global Innovation Portfolios align technical and financial resources to promising projects that can accelerate results for children in key focus areas, including Water and Sanitation, Maternal and Child Health, Climate Change, Gender Equality, Youth, Mental Health and Psychosocial Wellbeing, and Immunization. By bringing these proven solutions to more countries, UNICEF’s Office of Innovation strives to strategically and efficiently address some of the biggest challenges facing children. 

Continue exploring the Office of Innovation website to learn about the many innovative solutions and technologies the team is bringing to scale.