Feedback is Fundamental
Gathering feedback from others and reflecting on our own work is a defining aspect of AfricAid’s workplace culture. Ever since the organization started with the Kisa Project as its first program, feedback has acted as a catalyst for our development and growth. A perfect example of this is the establishment of our second program in 2017: Binti Shupavu is a direct result of listening to feedback from our stakeholders about how AfricAid could be more impactful for girls struggling in Tanzania’s educational system.
Feedback has taught us how to improve where we made mistakes; helped us as a team to come up with better ideas for how to run the programs smoothly; and suggested ways we had not thought of to more effectively help our beneficiaries. Constructive criticism has also been the source of professional and personal growth of Africaid staff members. One of the Mentors said, ”Feedback has helped me to know what I am good at, what I should stop doing which is failing the organization, and what to improve.”
Since the launching of Binti Shupavu to ten different schools in the Kilimanjaro Region in early 2017, we have been encouraged by feedback from Heads of School, School Liaisons, and Scholars’ parents. They have all told us of positive changes they have noticed in our Scholars in terms of personal behavior and academic achievement.
Heads of School
Mr. Mashimba, Head of Mkuu Secondary School comments, “The girls’ academic performance has measurably improved.” Since Binti Shupavu teaches girls about exam preparation, note taking and organizing and planning their work, this is very reinforcing feedback for us. In addition, it is very encouraging that positive changes have been noticed in the teachers themselves who have been influenced by the program. Mr Mashimba observed, “Through their Binti Shupavu work, my school teachers were very inspired and decided to start a club called JITAMBUE (Understand Yourself). They go around Rombo District every Friday to mentor girls and bring awareness to them.” This is a wonderful, unexpected outcome of our program.
Our sessions have also had a positive impact on morale. Many of the Heads of School agreed with the statement of one who said, “The girls are happy as the Binti Shupavu program has helped them very much. They feel comfortable knowing there is a place they can be heard and listened to, and they are comfortable now to share their problems from home and school.”
During their annual meeting and throughout the school year, we ask our Liaisons for their feedback on the program. Liaisons are close to the girls and are the people most likely to notice any changes in them. Madam Pamela from Mbokomu Secondary School said, “Thank you for bringing the project to our school, it has helped girls to be confident and stand up for themselves when faced with different challenges especially discrimination from home and school.” Enelisa from TPC Secondary School and Mary from Mkuu Secondary School also added that “Binti Shupavu has helped many girls understand themselves and heightened their awareness about so many things such as their rights. It has helped them to perform well in their academics. We appreciate the work the program is doing.”
Madam Scholarstica from Langasani Secondary School said, “Since the establishment of the project in our school, many girls understand very well about their reproductive health, menstrual hygiene and the surrounding environment. This has helped them to avoid pregnancies while there are still in school. These girls are now in higher levels of leadership in school and their discipline has also improved. There are not as many disciplinary cases as they used to be.” She vigorously suggested expanding the program. “The project has to expand so more girls can join the program. Seminars should be provided to reach all the students who might wish to join the program.”
Parents have many encouraging things to tell us, especially when we hear of a change of attitude towards girls’ education. Through parent engagement meetings many of them now have an understanding of the program, and have become more involved in their daughter’s education.
They understand the need to educate a girl as they have witnessed different changes in their girls since they joined Binti Shupavu. One parent indicated, ”When I heard about the program I knew it will be a great help as you’re teaching the girls things that we parents can’t due to our culture.” Elizabeth’s father from Kifaru Secondary School said, “I thank God for my daughter. She is very proactive, she performs well in school and she always studies after her house chores. You don’t have to force her to do anything, unlike her brother. She helps her brother with his school work and she likes school. Binti Shupavu has made a great contribution to her life.”
As we continue our work on the Binti Shupavu program, we are encouraged by this positive feedback. We are also committed to continuing to seek out constructive feedback and being responsive to the advice that we are given.