Teachers & Educators


Practical Education Network

Tools for West African STEM teachers to provide hands-on learning experiences

Team Lead

Heather Beem

Hear the Pitch

The Problem

In Ghana, STEM teachers often lack the resources needed to provide interactive learning experiences. Less than 10 percent of schools have any lab equipment, and less than 3 percent of STEM teachers attend relevant training. Instead, students are taught to memorize facts, regurgitate them on exams, and then promptly move onto new subjects.

The Solution

The Practical Education Network (PEN) platform provides teachers with the training and materials needed to provide hands-on learning experiences to unleash their students’ potential. PEN’s teacher-training program is unique because it contains lesson materials that are relevant to teachers’ local environments.

PEN’s teaching manuals contain hundreds of cleverly designed activities that use low-cost materials. These activities are aligned with the national curriculum, and PEN provides practical methods for teaching all required STEM subjects. PEN is also developing an app to engage and support teachers in their training program.

By empowering teachers, rather than bypassing them, PEN applies a sustainable and human capital-building approach to improving education.  

Market Opportunity

  • Many teacher-training programs exist, but few contain relevant material for teachers’ local environments, making it hard to apply learned methodologies.
  • There are approximately 70 million students in West Africa learning STEM subjects.
  • A controlled trial showed a 22 percent increase in student enjoyment of STEM learning and up to an 18 percent increase in national exam scores after PEN’s intervention.

Organization Highlights

  • Operating in all 16 districts of Greater Accra and several other districts around Ghana
  • Grew its reach three years in a row, starting from a pilot with 24 teachers and government officials in 2014 to more than 3,000 teachers as of 2017
  • Featured speaker: Ghana Association of Science Teachers (GAST) Annual General Meeting, Ministry of Education’s Regional STMIE Camps
  • Award: Solve Teachers & Educators Prize

Existing Partnerships

PEN currently partners with several organizations to reach its broader goals, such as:

  • Ghana Education Service to provide access to public schools
  • Ghana Association of Science Teachers to provide introductions to officials and co-facilitate trainings
  • Varkey Foundation (Ghana) to deploy a broadcast of PEN’s STEM teacher training
  • Edify to provide access to private schools

Organization Goals

PEN seeks to achieve the following goals:

  • Expand to additional countries in West Africa (Liberia, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone)
  • Build staff capacity to lead and cultivate leaders within the organization
  • Complete development of gamified app as a tool for teacher training and engagement
  • Become a thoughtleader in STEM education in West Africa

Partnership Goals

To reach the goals mentioned above, PEN seeks partners to:

  • Develop an app for teacher engagement and encouragement
  • Advise on hiring talent and cultivating leaders
  • Advise on how to best communicate impact
  • Devise innovative strategies to bring services to more clients
  • Grow exposure in West Africa and around the globe
  • Provide financial support


PEN has reached 3,300 teachers and impacted 500,000 students.

82 percent of students in Ghana who engaged with PEN had a positive experience.

Solver Team

Organization Type:

Accra, Ghana


Working in:



Solution Team:

  • Heather Beem CEO & Founder, Practical Education Network


Hands-On STEM Learning in West Africa

Solver Practical Education Network received the $25,000 Teachers & Educators Prize in 2018 to develop tools for West African STEM teachers to provide hands-on learning experiences.


Hands-On STEM Learning in West Africa

Solver Practical Education Network, which creates tools for West African STEM teachers to provide hands-on learning experiences, received a $10,000 grant from Solve in 2018 for being selected as a Teachers & Educators Solver.

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