COBURWAS International Youth Organization to Transform Africa





Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo

Grade Level of Students Participating

Nursery school through university

Number of Students Participating per Year

COBURWAS primary school: 400 students
COBURWAS secondary school program: 100 students
Coburwas alumni-run schools: 380 students
University scholarships: 30 students
Active nonviolence and entrepreneurial leadership education: 5,000 youth

Year Organization Began


Relationship to the public education system

CIYOTA is a non-profit organization, which both operates its own school and educational programs and works to improve access to government schools.

Organization’s Vision and Mission

Mission: "We seek to transform Africa by educating and empowering socially responsible entrepreneurial leaders to unite communities and create sustainable peace, love and prosperity."

Vision: “CIYOTA’s vision is for united, developed and peaceful communities in Africa.”

Brief Description of Program Activities

CIYOTA is a youth-led, volunteer-based organization, which was established in the Kyangwali refugee settlement in Uganda by refugee youth from Congo (DRC), Burundi, Uganda, Rwanda, and Sudan (COBURWAS). Through its programs, CIYOTA aims to create a movement of young people committed to building peace and prosperity across Africa. The organization sees economic violence, or the “forceful prevention from access to resources such as land and education,” as the primary cause of conflict in central Africa and the main reason youth join rebel groups.2 As a result, CIYOTA’s approach to education focuses in particular on entrepreneurship skills and leadership in non-violent change.

Schools: COBURWAS operates a nursery and primary school in the Kyangwali refugee settlement to improve access to and quality of education for refugee children and children from the local community. Because there are no secondary schools near Kyangwali, they also run hostels that students from Kyangwali can live in while attending secondary school. The curriculum for students in the school and in the hostels includes entrepreneurship and leadership training and incorporates games, sports, music, theater, and dance, particularly to address divisions among students from different tribes. CIYOTA also works to help students reach university and provides support in accessing scholarships, including for international universities.

Leadership Education: In addition to the school-based programs, CIYOTA operates Pamoja Kwa Maendeleo (Together for Development), a program that seeks to counter the violence and economic underdevelopment in the eastern DRC by training youth in “socially responsible leadership, active non-violence and social entrepreneurship.” The program focuses on helping students learn how to work together, live together, discuss problems, and create solutions. Participating youth design and implement community transformation projects.

Livelihood Programs: CIYOTA also runs microfinance and livelihood programs focused particularly on women and girls. These include a program for giving loans to widows to start their own small businesses and a program that teaches sewing skills.

Program Content: Intrapersonal Competencies

Passion, commitment, and adaptability

Program Content: Interpersonal Competencies

Conflict resolution and collaboration

Program Content: Cognitive Competencies

Problem solving, critical thinking, flexibility, and decision making

Program Content: Attitudes and Values

CIYOTA’s core values are:
Integrity: commitment to honesty, transparency, reliability and building trust;
Compassion: deep awareness of the suffering of others, and a strong desire to alleviate it;
Diversity: understanding and appreciating that every person is unique; recognizing the strength that emanates from our collective differences such as race, ethnicity, tribe, nationality, gender, religious beliefs and socio-economic status;
Community Responsibility: a commitment or an oath made to fulfilling promises made to each other, and our communities;
Excellence: constantly striving for success and being the best in all that we do; and
Boldness: a commitment to remain courageous in the fight against illiteracy, poverty and tribalism in our communities; a commitment to innovation in solving social challenges in our communities, and our continent.

Program Content: Pedagogy/Active Engagement of Students

CIYOTA’s pedagogy focuses on active learning and independent thinking. Furthermore, CIYOTA promotes youth leadership. Students are encouraged to start their own community development projects. For example, some former CIYOTA students have started their own primary school. There are also opportunities for youth to take on increasing responsibility within CIYOTA as they develop.

Additional Notes

Community engagement and support are critical to CIYOTA. Parents and other community members are guides for the organization, and parents contribute crops from their farms to raise money for teacher salaries. Over school breaks, CIYOTA members work on the organization’s farmland to grow additional crops.

Reference List

1 The information in this profile is from CIYOTA’s website, a phone call with the organization’s education director in July 2016, and the Ashoka Innovators for the Public website. Except where otherwise noted, all quotations are from CIYOTA’s website.

2 This is from an Ashoka profile of Benson Wereje, one of CIYOTA’s founders. The profile is available at

Prepared by

Anastasia Aguiar