Hi! My name is Ke and I recently graduated from the University of Cambridge with an MPhil in Development Studies. It was natural for me to join CDI as I have always been very interested in understanding development issues since I was an undergraduate. After gaining a technical background in development during my academic studying in Cambridge, I became more aware of the importance of human development such as discourses on gender equality in project implementation in the context of globalization. I believe the fundamental solutions lies in education: as famously quoted from the father of this concept H.G. Wells, “human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe.” This is the reason I am leading CDI’s Education Project this year, with a focus on introducing more dynamic teaching schemes to local primary and secondary schools aimed at tackling the established rote-learning issues. In addition to this, we plan to build an educational network for out-of-school girls to enable them more opportunities to thrive.
The Education Project’s comprehensive portfolio includes initiatives such as the Think Big Challenge, Career Network Support, KompyutHER, Youth Empowerment Club, Emotional Wellbeing, Career Hub and English Club. After years of piloting various initiatives, we have gained invaluable operational data and know-how in carrying out these streams. This ensures our programmes’ constant improvement each year, with ever greater effectiveness and sustainability. For instance, in the case of the English Club, we have learned from the past that external voluntary organisations should not act heavily in teaching roles due to their limited local presence (CDI and KITE only operate for two months a year during the summer). With this in mind, in 2019, we will underpin the importance of an education system that develops students’ interests as an essential skill for both academic study and future employment. Hence, CDI’s Education Project 2019 will aim to generate a system solution at the root of the problems, which focuses on sparking the motivation and interests of both students and teachers. This will involve progressive activities in terms of the difficulties of English usage, from the storytelling of traditional Tanzanian stories in English to English drama competitions to debates in English, thus gradually leading to a higher commitment to studying English among students.
Working on the committee of CDI has been an ideal opportunity to learn how to lead a project, realise an intellectual blueprint through team working and practice my passion in a real-life context. The beauty of working with CDI is the first-hand experience gained of making an impact in this complex and uncertain world. As I arrived in Tanzania, I felt the relentless feeling of fighting on a battlefield – working out the ‘impossible’ while adapting cross-cultural differences quickly. Yet, I do not have even one moment of regret. On a daily basis, I enhance my skills in project management, problem-solving and conducting effective communication with the committee, external shareholders, local schools and authorities. It has been a second-to-none learning experience for me in how to be resilient individual and a team leader.
In a nutshell, CDI has been an amazing experience in so many ways. It’s the first step for me to understand the industry by leading a project. It continues to enrich my learning experience in the field of development and prepares me to take on more responsibilities in the future. More importantly, I believe I have made some lifelong friends in the team who are just as enthusiastic as me about making a concrete impact in the global community.
By Ke Zhang, Education Project Director 2018/19
Coco is an MPhil candidate in Development Studies at Lucy Cavendish College.