Greetings from Washington, DC! Recently we received an evaluation performed by two volunteers of Amizade Global Service Learning, an American nonprofit group that has been Ota’s main partner in this project. This evaluation is going to be a great tool as we discuss how to move forward with our programs, so I wanted to share some of its findings with you all.
After interviewing teachers, students and parents, our evaluators concluded that our program was a success! Among other comments, many of the parents of our students commented that their children now know more and talk more about nature, ask more questions about how things work and express more interest in being leaders. Almost all parents interviewed also said their children draw much more now using the gift of art supplies Ota gave them at the end of our program. We consider these comments as signs that we are on our way to accomplishing our goal of teaching children the creativity, leadership and critical-thinking skills they need to succeed in school and to become informed, engaged citizens of Tanzania.
Students, parents and teacher expressed an appreciation of Ota and its work. All parents interviewed expressed interest in their children continuing with Ota’s next program in June. Additionally, some parents also suggested running the break programs for longer, having a year-round program and even starting school! We will keep these suggestions in mind as we move forward, but regardless it is great to hear that people saw the value in our program.
There were, of course, some areas identified that we could improve. For example, although we made the program fee optional as we did not want to exclude anyone for financial reasons, some people suggested that some parents still might not have applied out of shame. Next program we will have to come up with a plan to recruit those who are interested in our program but may not step forward on their own. We also plan to start advertising earlier and visit more elementary schools in the area so as to more effectively spread the word about our program. As a whole though, our evaluators did not identify any major gaps in our program, and I have confidence that next session we will be able to address the small issues they did uncover.
For now though, it is good to know that other people (not just me!) consider the program to have been a success and our looking forward to the return of our program in June. For now, if you would like to read a nice news blurb about Ota and learn more about our sponsoring organization, please check out Amizade’s winter newsletter:
The Ota Initiative