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Monthly Archives: August 2012

August 30, 2012

Written by Evanna

The ambition and level of dedication of g.Maarifa youths never cease to impress me. On Tuesday, we went back to one of the pilot testing sites since it was the midway point of our testing. They like the content and the technology, although they did point out some bugs that we have been battling but are now fixed. They said that the are engrossed by the content because all the case studies made the units read more like a story than instructions. But mostly, they were eager to continue with the course so that they can start looking for jobs.

Many are devoting 2-3 hours everyday on the course material, quizzing each other on the content outside the unit quizzes they are given, and practicing the skills taught to them in our professional etiquette units. They are wondering if we have courses that will deepen their knowledge in areas such as accounting, journalism, and hospitality. Their thirst for hard-to-access information is enormous and their dedication to learn the hard-to-access information is mind blowing.

These youths are unemployed not because they are not willing to work hard or because they are uneducated. On the contrary, they are working hard everyday to scrape together enough money for them and their family members. They just do not have enough opportunities. We seek to change that. We want to give them the opportunities to prove their talent and potential and open new doors for them. That is the mission of g.Maarifa.

 

We debuted  g.Maarifa in our three pilot testing sites in Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya earlier this week. The three sites are Olympic Secondary School, Soweto Academy (whose Form 4 students are all girls), and Saving Our Daughters and Sons (SODAS) Foundation. We first introduced g.Maarifa to them, then demoed the product by putting them into groups and allowing them to do the first unit of the entrepreneurship course, and finally asked them for immediate feedback. In addition, because this pilot also doubles as an impact study, before we introduced g.Maarifa, we asked them to take a pre-test on entrepreneurship to see how much they already know. The pretest is composed of questions on two local-context case studies that cover strategies, marketing, employee hiring, pricing, and long-term thinking. The three schools all scored in the 68-70% range on the test. While they do have the aptitude and acumen for business, the score shows that they still have much to learn. In an economy that is primarily made of self-employment, it is necessary that these students learn these skills.

The students will officially start the program on August 13th.  With an estimated one- month duration, we will be getting concrete numbers and results the second week of September, when school will start again. In the meantime, we will be going back to these sites biweekly to evaluate their progress and answer any questions/concerns they might have. We will be giving them a final examination that mirrors the pretest which will allow us to see how much knowledge they have garnered and points of curriculum improvement for us.

g.Maarifa is looking optimistic already. When we introduced the concept of g.Maarifa, the students were very enthusiastic and had all types of questions ranging from, “My sister is from Elderot and graduated from Form 4 last year. Can she also do this program?” to ” what if I get into university and will not be able to work right away? Can I still do the training?”. They were also thrilled with the technology and began competing with each other to see how many questions they could get right and how fast they could do the unit. Olympic Secondary School head teacher and counselor were so impressed with the program that they requested that we offer the program, specifically the professional etiquette course, to their fellow teachers as well.

While the start of pilot testing was overall successful, we definitely learned some lessons that will make future training sessions run smoother. We learned that having plans B, C, and D in addition to A is crucial especially when the unexpected happens. For example, at one point, Safaricom’s shortcode system was down so we could not demo the technology. We had to go to plan B and C and showed them the g.Maarifa texts that were stored on our personal phones to give them an idea. We also drew out how the technology works on the blackboard to accompany our verbal instruction. Then, we promised to come back later in the week to give them another demo. While the situation was not ideal, we could not have done anything then except constant calls to Safaricom and our techies (which we did). Our ability to be flexible and to adapt to the current situation helped us tremendously.

We look forward to the results, which we will share with you as soon as we receive and analyze them in late September.