I am currently working as an intern at UNESCO – Dar es Salaam in Tanzania on a project known as the Global Learning XPRIZE. The Global Learning XPRIZE is a worldwide competition launched by the XPRIZE Foundation for the development of open source and scalable software applications to promote children’s literacy and numeracy. I consider myself to be very lucky as I was appointed to work in Tanzania where the project is to be tested. The Global Learning XPRIZE is the first of its kind with 136 teams from around the world competing though ultimately there will be only 5 finalists whose applications will be uploaded into tablets and tested in Tanzania with 3,000 children for a period of 15 months. The team whose app produces the best outcomes will receive the $10 million grand prize.
My first few weeks at UNESCO involved my orientation into the UN system and thereafter acquainting myself with the project at hand. Since the actual testing is to commence in September 2017, UNESCO is conducting a one-month pilot test with a smaller sample of children to measure the impact of the introduction of tablets into a remote community and the potential effects on household and community dynamics. The lessons captured from the pilot test will then provide a bit of insight into best practices to adapt for implementation of data collection in September.
The main objective of the project is to improve access to education and learning by allowing out-of-school children to pursue their own literacy education without the need for a top-down organization. If we can find cost and time effective ICT solutions to address the learning crisis of many children around the world, then we will be on the path to alleviating challenges related to high student to teacher ratio, restricted access to education due to poor infrastructure, among other things. This project aims to give underprivileged children an opportunity to study outside the traditional classroom setting and teach themselves content that goes beyond the scope of the ordinary curriculum.
So far I have supported in organizing and participated in a social-emotional assessment workshop where we invited national and international experts in the social emotional learning field to develop tools that will be used to measure the social-emotional development of the project participants. Following the workshop, I was tasked to develop questionnaires that would be used to capture information regarding: the frequency of tablet usage, sharing inside and outside the household, conflict with daily routine, perception of the tablet and other relevant information. More recently my role involves inputting the data collected from the pilot test, every week for the next four weeks, into a database and commenting on the data collection methodologies employed as well as any anomalies observed during the data analysis. The short time that I have spent at UNESCO has exposed me to the RBM strategy which we only touched on in our workshops. My role in the XPRIZE project continues to give me valuable first-hand experience of the nuts and bolts of project management. Overall it is a challenging but mostly an exciting entry point into project planning, implementation and evaluation.
Below is a link to give you more insight into the project I am working on.
Wendy is in the 5th Cohort of the Master’s of Development Practice Program. Her research interests include youth in agriculture, community development, rural planning and development, women empowerment through entrepreneurship