Thursday, September 5, 2013

Educating Towards A Better Tomorrow

In 2006, Botswana's Ministry of Education and Skills Development (MoESD) set about developing a National Life Skills Framework that would guide the creation and implementation of the Life Skills program. The underlying belief inherent in this program is that children are the most important national resources and that they will become the leaders of tomorrow. The Life Skills program, therefore, aims to help children develop the knowledge, attitudes, and skills necessary to avoid risky behaviors, overcome challenges, and live positive and health lives. What they developed was a strong framework that outlines learning outcomes and indicators in a number of subject areas that are meant to guide the Life Skills curriculum. What they did not create was a guideline for how to teach the material. This is where I come in.

In my role with PCI, I am entrusted with putting together a Life Skills Toolkit. The vision for the project is to create a guidebook to assist life skills facilitators with imparting knowledge onto learners by providing them with clear information and, essentially, a packet of hands-on activities and lesson plans aligned to the framework. It is the hope of PCI that this toolkit will enhance the Life Skills program and make it even more effective. As such, they intend to publish it and roll it out on a national level. This is a huge project to be involved with.

As such, I have been conducting focus groups with Batswana and have called on the experience of my colleagues who have been working within the youth development sector in Botswana - they are the experts in the field and can offer insight into best practices within the Life Skills program. It is my belief that the most rich product will be one that incorporates real-world experience with technical theory.

I am happy to report that development of the toolkit is moving along smoothly and we already have 170 pages stocked with descriptions of topics and key terms, as well as lesson plans on topics ranging from how to effectively facilitate sessions for children and young adults to compulsory content like: sexual and reproductive health, STIs, and HIV/AIDS; life skills (communication, critical thinking, goal setting, decision making, managing stress/grief/pressures, etc); values; health and safety; human rights; and finally how to monitor and evaluate your program. By November, the toolkit should be ready to go to print and hopefully there will be a national campaign by the first of the new year.

Here's hoping that 2014 brings about a more complete Life Skills program as a result of this project.

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