Monday, May 2, 2016

Let Girls Learn

[Arusha, Tanzania]

Good news, everyone!

Twende was invited to a USAID conference on girls' education. In about a week, I'll be representing Twende a "co-creation workshop" as part of the Let Girls Learn initiative ( Let Girls Learn was started last year by President and First Lady Barack and Michelle Obama. It's all about improving the perception of the value of girls, increasing their access to quality education, and equipping them to be powerful contributing members of society. The workshop I'm going to focuses on programs in Tanzania and Malawi.

This workshop is different from any event or grant I've been involved with before. It's not a conference so much as a big collaborative design challenge. USAID is bringing together representatives from around 75 organzations that deal with women's empowerment. They range from small local ones like Twende to foreign universities to large international organizations. On May 10th through the 12th, we're all meeting in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's industrial capital, to design programs for adolescent girls in Tanzania and Malawi. We're going to start off by talking with students, experts in the field, and each other to explicitly define the big challenges and main obstructions to quality girls education in the two countries. Then, we'll brainstorm solutions and collectively design programs to address these problems. The goal is to come out of the workshop with several conceptual outlines of new programs. After that, we'll work with USAID to refine these concepts and turn them into formal proposals which we'll submit to USAID and other donors for funding.

Based on the bios of other participants, we seem to have a wide range of perspectives and specialties, so ideally we'll make some novel and productive combinations. I've never collaborated on anything of this scale--designing something with 74 other people sounds like quite a task--so I'm also curious to see how the whole workshop is facilitated. Designing a program with multiple other organizations sounds tricky, but exciting. I'm psyched to learn from the other participants who have so many years of experience in education and development around the world. Twende's focus on technology, especially mechanical technology, and support for grassroots innovation makes us somewhat unique among organizations in this space, so I think we'll have some valuable skills to contribute.

The next week's going to be busy, but I'll be sure to send an update after the workshop/

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