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 three pilots, some drawing on initiatives from previous years and some unprecedented.
The first of these is KomputHER, a project addressing the lack of technological skills and business literacy among women running small enterprises in Dar es Salaam. Working with a small group of such women, the programme aims to help them build skills in marketing, social media, accounting and business-development on computers and smartphones. The expected outcome is that such skills would facilitate tangible benefits like business expansion and increased revenue for the participants, in addition to more abstract benefits like increased confidence and self-reliance. Though this project has been run in previous years, this edition of the initiative is designed with a greater emphasis on sustainability. In practice, this will be achieved by inviting and training previous participants to be mentors for this year’s workshops, empowering them to make the transition from beneficiaries to facilitators of the project. The project will be delivered in collaboration with local organisations like Help2Help and Dot Tanzania.
The second project addresses the absence of opportunities that often faces women in Dar es Salaam (and indeed across Africa) who have never attended school and are currently unemployed. Following the model of cooperatives—whereby members are both the beneficiaries and the key governors of the collective—the project aims to create a forum for these women to self-organise and catalyse their own empowerment. Though currently in the development stage, the initiative will provide participants with the support and facilities to design and develop a project that can ultimately become a source of financial support for them. Since the Education PD from Kite has been a volunteer in previous years and has local contacts with women’s organisations in Dar es Salaam, our participants are likely to be women supported by some of these organisations, one of which is Help2Help.
The third project addresses the issue of difficulty that students have in transitioning from Swahili to English as the medium of instruction when moving from primary to secondary school. A more interactive and activity-based variation of last year’s English-speaking workshops, the project will be designed as a one-day workshop— consisting of a combination of individual and group exercises— to help students build confidence and proficiency when expressing themselves in English. This workshop will be administered in 3-4 few schools across Dar es Salaam, and will culminate in a final workshop where all the participants will present a piece based on what they’ve learned. Collaborators for this project will be the University of Dar es Salaam and Ardhi University.