The Kisa Project empowers some of Tanzania’s brightest and most motivated young women to reach their full potential and be catalysts for change in their communities. Young women in Tanzania are not generally taught to believe they are equal to their male counterparts, and rarely have role models to show them otherwise. Kisa gives young women the confidence and skills they need to reach their personal potential, pursue excellence in leadership, prepare for future employment, and initiate and contribute to meaningful change in their communities and the broader society.
The Kisa Project aims to:
- Provide Tanzanian secondary school girls with relevant life-skills and leadership training
- Mentor and support each girl through her final two years of secondary school
- Hold a number of extra-curricular activities and events to ensure the needs of girls are comprehensively addressed
- Give each girl access to university education through a competitive scholarship program
- Provide ongoing networking and professional development activities through an alumni network.
of Tanzanian girls go to secondary school, and only 3% to tertiary education.
Why Girls? Why Leadership?
In Tanzania, only 26% of girls go to secondary school, and only 3% to tertiary education. Girls who are fortunate enough to continue past primary school then face significant financial, cultural and environmental challenges and obstacles, which undermine their ability to make the most of the secondary school opportunity.
As a result, young women rarely complete secondary school or perform well enough to qualify for university. Once they reach the workforce, women are much less likely to occupy leadership positions, and they earn significantly less than their male counterparts.
While education increases earning potential, it’s not just the length of time in school that counts, but the knowledge and skills that are gained. Because girls in Tanzania are not encouraged, supported, or given the opportunity to develop adequate life skills, leadership skills, and critical thinking skills, their performance in secondary school is undermined and they often fail to reach their full potential. Many remain disempowered in their everyday lives, even when they have completed secondary school.
The core of the program is an intensive two-year leadership and life skills training course. Classes are based on the Kisa Curriculum and are taught after school by full-time AfricAid staff members called Kisa Mentors, all of whom are university educated Tanzanian women. During the weekly, two-hour interactive Kisa Class, the Mentors become trusted adult role models who understand the challenges each individual Kisa Scholar faces.
Kisa Mentors teach reproductive health, human rights, personal leadership, public speaking, advocacy, personal finance, budgeting, project management, computer skills, and provide career guidance. Kisa Classes gives Kisa Scholars a safe space to better understand themselves and their life goals, the confidence to challenge the discrimination they often face as young women, and the skills to become powerful leaders in their communities. Classes also help Scholars to form a solid foundation of professional skills, which make them better prepared to enter the workforce. Kisa Classes are amplified by a range of extra-curricular and support activities.
Kisa Scholars learn to actively engage in their communities and to think critically about how to solve complex problems facing their society. The first year of the Kisa Curriculum culminates with Kisa Scholars conducting community assessments of their home communities, and presenting their findings and solutions to a three-judge panel. Scholars develop public speaking skills, build their confidence, and involve the community in their dreams.
At the end of the second year, Kisa Scholars complete a ‘2 Day Challenge’ project based on their community assessment. Scholars develop a project plan and budget to address a particular challenge they have identified in their community, and then receive training to implement the project in the real world. Over the course of 2 days, Scholars work in their communities and have the opportunity to tangibly demonstrate to community members the value of educated young women.
Theory of Change
Annual Women’s Leadership Conference
Unique to Kisa, Scholars participate in Career Day, an annual women’s leadership conference. At Career Day, they are exposed to passionate Tanzanian women leaders, and their minds are opened to new career possibilities. The conference also allows Scholars to begin building professional networks. All presentations and sessions are interactive and inspiring; many Kisa Scholars credit their participation in Career Day as a key moment in identifying their career and life goals.
Upon successful completion of their 2-Day Challenge projects, Kisa graduates are eligible for the Kisa Scholarship Program, which provides select scholars with funding for tertiary education.
Kisa Alumnae Network
Kisa graduates also become part of the Kisa Alumnae Network, which offers quarterly job-readiness, professional development workshops and networking gatherings, and allows AfricAid to track graduate progress and achievements.
The Kisa Effect
We’ve seen that developing confidence, resilience and self-esteem, coupled with concrete skills, community knowledge, and practical experience, leads to powerful, self-aware young women, whose very presence positively impacts the way women are viewed and accepted in their communities.
As we continue to track the progress of each Scholar from the day she joins the Kisa Project, through her finishing secondary school and going to university, and eventually and into the work force, we are beginning to see powerful changes taking place.