A Brief Introduction to the Think Big Challenge
A Brief Introduction to Careers & Skills Workshops
Secondary schools in Dar es Salaam widely suffer from limited classroom resources, a lack of learning materials, poor infrastructure and pollution (mainly dust and litter).
Class sizes can range between 50 and 100 students, and as a result rote-learning is the standard technique for teaching. Youth advocates say schools fail to teach the skills and intellectual prowess employers are looking for – plus only a tiny minority of students receive any formal careers education.
On top of this, each year, 900,000 young Tanzanians enter a job market that is generating only 50,000 to 60,000 new jobs. As well as producing good employees, the education system should endeavour to produce job creators by equipping youth with entrepreneurial skills. But at school, students rarely get a chance to be creative or solve problems autonomously - in fact, they are often scared to express their own opinions for fear of being caned.
The challenge required teams of secondary school students from across Dar es Salaam to research, design and implement sustainable solutions to pressing problems experienced in their schools and communities. Over the course of the programme, CDI facilitated students in the implementation of their initiatives and ran workshops training participants in skills such as critical evaluation, fundraising, project planning, delegation and leadership.
In 2017, this programme was subsumed into a larger one called ‘Career Network Support’ (CNS). CNS aims to combine entrepreneurial skills development with careers advice so that students leave school more employable, more self-sufficient, and better able to make informed decisions about their futures.
There are four stages to CNS:
1. Preliminary self-discovery workshops
2. The Think Big Challenge
3. A Dream Sharing Event
4. Youth Empowerment Clubs.
The self-discovery workshops involve 4 sessions entitled “My Identity”, “Future Plans”, “Careers Information” and “Problem Solving”, the last of which gives students an opportunity to pitch an idea for an initiative. These activities are aimed at helping students to think about themselves, their future aspirations and generally become more self-aware.
The best initiatives/students are then selected for entry into the Think Big Challenge, which has already been described, via a written application process. The Dream Sharing Event serves as a closing ceremony for the TBC and is an opportunity for students to exhibit and win prizes for the initiatives they have developed during the challenge, as well as a chance for them to interact with local professionals. In Summer 2017, the DSE involved talks by school and university students regarding self-discovery and successes beyond formal education, stakeholders, such as Latifa Mrisho from The Earth Institute TreND Outreach, presented their ideas on ways in which students can be involved with developmental work in different career fields, and the District Commissioner discussed available opportunities in the community for young people to air their voices and participate in development.
The Youth Empowerment Clubs are a way to ensure our work is sustainable – they consist of weekly sessions that provide students with a space to continue working on their initiatives while continuing to develop skills through collaborating with their peers. Clubs have been implemented in the schools we worked with prior to Summer 2017 and are being run by a student leadership committee, which was appointed following hustings. An 8-month curriculum has been drawn up and handed over to the student committee, as well as regular feedback forms and impact surveys, which will be collected and analysed in Summer 2018.
In 2016, CDI Education piloted a new programme called the ‘Think Big Challenge’ (TBC).
Its aims were two-fold:
This year, the education project team is planning to run two pilots, some drawing on initiatives from previous years and some unprecedented.
The first of these is ICTanzania, this project aims to carry out weekly two-hour sessions that teach essential computer and business skills to adult Tanzanians to help expand career skill sets.
The second project is The English Club. This project aims to teach weekly English sessions to primary school students in Dar es Salaam to improve their language skills in the context of changing the medium of instruction from Swahili to English upon their transition to secondary school. We plan to integrate parents into this project by hosting parent-teacher conferences, constructing weekly reports and conducting workshops to ease the transition to home education for parents.