Meet the CDI Director 2018/19!

I’m Bahumi Motlhanka, a 4th year Chemical Engineering student. As someone who grew up and still lives in Botswana, I was always somewhat wary of development work and the lens through which Africa is sometimes viewed through in that context. As my interest in the development sector grew, I was keen to get involved in an organization that recognized the importance of local actors and worked in a truly collaborative manner to deliver impactful projects; the work of CDI and Kite Dar es Salaam in Tanzania speaks for itself.  I worked on the monitoring and evaluation of the WaSH (Water, sanitation, and hygiene) project this summer and really enjoyed the broad overview I got. I was able to participate and contribute to strategic decisions being made across the whole project, I felt challenged and valued throughout the summer.


(Some) members of the WaSH Team at Kite’s First Anniversary Dinner

I made some incredible friendships with the Kite DSM team last summer, and as Director, I hope to use that as a base to strengthen the collaboration between our two organizations. I am also looking to build on the work of last summer and establish research partnerships in Tanzania. In this way, I aim to bring Tanzanian voices to the fore and have them involved in the need identification and ideation stages of project development. There are a number of students and societies involved in research that we’re looking to work within Cambridge to continue to build CDI’s own research capacity.


This year is also the five year anniversary of CDI as an organization so we will be taking the time to reflect on the lessons learned, using these to inform how we go forward but we will take the time to appreciate how much work has been done by students from Tanzania and the UK and how this has gone a long way in reshaping the perception of the role of students in development.


The CDI Executive Committee offers a lot in terms of how much of the project you get to shape, the connections you get to make within the sector and is a unique way of getting involved with practical international development work. This is an opportunity to work with students in Tanzania to deliver impactful projects. As part of the committee, there is a lot of trust and responsibility on you from day one, I cannot think of anything else that could match this, it is a truly rare opportunity to do student volunteering differently.


If you are interested in joining the Executive Committee, applications are open now! Find out more at


Tunes in Tanzania

By Max Goodall

Music is a massive part of life in any country and Tanzania is no different. Within the urban sprawl of Dar es Salaam, music seems to come at you from all angles; sounds are crammed together as closely as the many small buildings and street vendors themselves. Moreover, although this is generally characteristic of urban city life the world over, Dar also has its own distinct, identifiable identity and this is what you hear as you walk through its streets. The CDI 2018 volunteers are having a great time exploring the tunes of Tanzania and as a music student, I thought it’d be interesting to draw together what we’ve learned about music in Tanzania so far.

Whenever you read or hear about Tanzanian music, the genre you always hear about is Bongo Flava. The genre is undoubtedly dominant in the Tanzanian music scene and is only growing in popularity; artists such as Muzungu Kichaa (listen to ‘Wajanja’) and ALIKIBA (listen to ‘Mvuma Wa Radi’ and ‘Seduce Me’), already ubiquitous throughout Dar es Salaam, are steadily growing their international profile. The most successful exponent of Bongo Flava, however, is undoubtedly Diamond Platnumz. His recent album ‘A Boy From Tandale’ included massive American artists such as Rick Ross and Ne-Yo, the latter track (‘Marry You’) gaining 24 million views on YouTube. I don’t think there’s been a day when a haven’t heard his newest single ‘Jibebe’ since we got here (it’s quality). However, definitions of this hugely successful genre differ wildly and people have consistently failed to agree on what the title actually refers to. In the early-mid 00s Bongo Flava was interpreted both by Tanzanians and Westerners as including a variety of styles such as Zouk, hip-hop, R&B, Reggae, Takeu and Bongo Bangra. However, since the late-00s, the term has generally referred to a more specific body of pop music, not including particularly Tanzanian Rap which is now generally seen as entirely separate.[1] This distinction seems appropriate to much of the Bongo Flava we’ve heard while we’re here. The tunes which constantly flow out of shops as you walk by, as well as out of endless Bhajaji drivers’ radios, have an aural appearance of contemporary R&B and Latin-American influenced pop. However, as with Western music, particularly in the United States, the line of distinction between popular and hip-hop genres is incredibly blurred.


Diamond Platnumz’ album cover, A Boy from Thandale

The apparent Western influence in Bongo Flava is a product of the influx of Western cultural images following the abandonment of socialism and complete self-reliance as Tanzania’s ideological model in 1991.[2] However, although Bongo Flava includes influence from Western styles and is successfully crossing over into the international mainstream, it remains peculiarly Tanzanian. The genre’s roots are particularly identifiable through its utilisation of highly syncopated (off-beat) repeating drum patterns, something common to much modern African music (although It should be noted that the notion of African music’s basis to a greater extent on rhythmic considerations compared to European music has been highly criticised, see for example Kofi Agawu’s article ‘The Invention of “African Rhythm”’[3]). These patterns push the music on, creating a deep sense of excitement and energy; a massive part of what makes the music enjoyable, particularly to dance to (as we found at the club ‘Next Door’ on the first weekend of the trip). Beyond their aesthetic qualities, however, elements such as this can be seen as part of a strategy of the localization of cosmopolitan international styles. The inclusion of elements signifying a sense of African identity within music in this way allows the artists to construct African cultural authenticity and pride, performing Tanzanian identity.

The process of localization in music is usually then utilized by artists to resist social marginalization. The term Bongo Flava literally means ‘flavour of the brains’ and originally referred to the cunning needed to live in a city like Dar es Salaam (which also used to be known by the term Bongo).[4] The genre was therefore innately connected to the modern metropolitan experience of being a young person in Dar es Salaam. Youth in Tanzania, just as elsewhere in the world are frequently stigmatized as associated with qualities such as laziness and vagrancy. In its original incarnation, the genre was used to refute these stereotypes of youth identity, as well as highlighting societal issues encountered by this marginalized group.


American hip-hop group Migos advertise on the back of a bhajaji

However, this characteristic is one of the issues which has led to the current description of Tanzanian hip-hop and Bongo Flava as mutually exclusive. Many Tanzanian ‘pure’ hip-hop artists self-exclude themselves from the category Bongo Flava on the grounds that hip-hop is supposedly still committed to social critique, while Bongo Flava represents a commercialized version of the original style.[5] This separate style is identifiable not only by its lyrical content but also by its aural similarities to traditional hip-hop, particularly 90s West-Coast tracks – check out, for example, one of the fathers of Tanzanian hip-hop Professor Jay (listen to ‘Zali la Mentali ft. Juma Nature’). Interestingly, therefore, although both are clear examples of negotiations of postcolonial identity and the influence of globalization, from what I’ve heard so far, generally Tanzanian hip-hop fails to aurally localize itself in Tanzania, and Dar specifically, to the same extent as Bongo Flava. Despite this, however, arguably the hip-hop produced throughout Dar remains more concerned with the expression of youth identity within the city, and the refutation of the local stereotypes applied to it than the expression of a broader national identity. Moreover, through their lyrical agility and generic choice of hip-hop, a genre steeped in narratives of Pan-Africanism and urban struggle, Tanzania’s hip-hop artists successfully construct themselves as cultural producers embodying both urban authenticity and sophistication. What should be noted also, is that both Bongo Flava and Tanzania’s hip-hop are absolutely sick.

Luckily so far on the trip, we’ve had plenty of opportunities to hear some quality music. At clubs such as ‘Next Door’ we were delivered a massive variety of tunes, from American R&B to tracks from all over Africa (such as Angola’s Yuri Da Cunha – check out ‘Atchu Tchutcha’). The volunteers have been doing some amazing singing in the newly formed CDI and Kite DSM choir, and some slightly less amazing singing at karaoke nights. Likely due to the advent of the internet and general trends of globalization, there is a massive amount of Western music prevalent throughout Dar, particularly Ed Sheeran (in our first week we were subjected to six consecutive versions of ‘Thinking Out Loud’ at Karaoke). However, the city retains its distinct cultural identity and has some great Tanzanian tunes to show for it.

[1] Sanga, Imani. ‘Muzungu Kichaa and the Figuring of Identity in “Bongo Fleva” Music in Tanzania’ International Review of the Aesthetics and Sociology of Music, Vol. 42, No. 1. (2011). pp. 190.

[2] Suriano, Maria. ‘Hip-Hop and Bongo Flavour Music Contemporary Tanzania: Youths’ Experiences, Agency, Aspirations and Contradictions’ Africa Development, Vol. 36, No. 3/4. (2011). pp. 115-6.

[3] Agawu, Kofi. ‘The Invention of “African Rhythm”’ Journal of the American Musicological Society Vol. 48, No. 3. (1995). pp. 380-395.

[4] Stroken, Koen. ‘Immunizing Strategies: Hip-Hop and Critique in Tanzania’ Africa: Journal of the International African Institute, Vol. 75, No. 4. (2005). pp. 488.

[5] Suriano. (2011). pp. 115.

A Day in the Life of an Education Publicity and Stakeholder Engagement Volunteer

By Sophie Wilson, Education Project Volunteer


This summer I am volunteering with CDI on the Education Team as Publicity and Stakeholder Engagement Officer, alongside my counterpart from Kite DSM, Jackline Christopher. I decided to join CDI as, having recently completed my MPhil in Development Studies at Cambridge, I wanted an opportunity to apply what I had learned in a more practical context. Our role involves communicating with our stakeholders about the project through the website, a project newsletter, social media channels and blogs. It is also our job to promote what we are doing with local media companies here in Tanzania.

On Tuesday 14th 2018 Jackline and I set out to talk to media companies in Dar es Salaam. Our aim was to promote the upcoming launch of the Education Project’s Think Big Challenge at Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam on Saturday 25th August, and to discuss how potential media partners could become involved. Having previously emailed and called a dozen companies to no avail, we decided to take matters into our own hands and try to deliver some physical copies of our media information sheet and invitation letter. I hope this blog also provides a bit of insight into what life is like as a CDI volunteer!

8.00am – Woke up and found something formal to wear and which would counterbalance the informality of my flip-flops.

8.30am – Breakfast! This morning I had a chapatti with lemon and sugar and also a mango from Mwenge market, washed down with an avocado juice and a malaria tablet. Mango season is almost over so we considered ourselves pretty lucky to have found these at the weekend!

9.00am – We walked over to the lecture block, where the Education Team works together in one of the classrooms. Whilst waiting for copies of our letter to print, I put the finishing touches to a blog post for the Central Committee and sent out our latest newsletter to our project stakeholders.

10.00am – We were ready to go. We bought some envelopes from the university stationary store, and then head out to our first company via the local bus (dala-dala).

10.45pm – The first stop was the ITV and EATV offices. We pitched our project to the security guard and left the letter with him.


Our first stop was ITV and EATV

10.50am – We then crossed the road and tried The Guardian Tanzania and Nipashe newspapers. The first security guard took a liking to us, seemingly delighted by a Swahili phrase Jackline had taught me that morning – nimefurahi kukufahamu, a tongue-twister which means pleased to meet you. Floundering at further Swahili attempts, I was relieved when it appeared we were through to level two.



The Guardian Tanzania and Nipashe were next

After a second security guard conversation and a chat with the secretary, we were whisked through to the news room of The Guardian, where we met Mdm. Mngumi, a senior editor. She seemed enthusiastic about running a feature in the newspaper about our event. It was a quick conversation and we left the building feeling like we had met a celebrity in a VIP lounge.


At The Guardian Tanzania we met senior editor Mdm. Mngumi

11.30am – Buoyed by this success, we set off for BBC Swahili. The BBC offices were pretty swanky and high-tech. We were put in touch with news editor Aboubakar Famau and met him in the radio recording studio. Reclining in an ergonomic chair, Mr. Famau brainstormed a potential approach to covering the event. He mentioned hosting a radio “disco” – this is radio lingo for “discussion” – with a selection of students participating in the Think Big Challenge to discuss their initiatives. We were a bit more nervous for this meeting but pretty happy with the outcome!


We then found ourselves in the studio with BBC Swahili News Editor Aboubakar Famau

12.00pm – Next up was Clouds TV. We didn’t have any luck meeting an editor but we had a pretty in-depth chat about the Think Big Challenge with the receptionist, who was very interested in our event, and met a photographer who snapped a couple of pictures of us in the office.


Next up was a trip to TVE then on to Clouds TV

12.30pm – After Clouds TV, we visited TVE. We only seemed to get as far as security this time and left the office minutes after arriving. Reaching the bottom of the stairs, we had a change of heart and decided to try and ask one more time. We met another security guard who asked one of us to follow him – I waited in the waiting room whilst Jackline set off to deliver our pitch in Swahili. After 40 minutes, she emerged victorious. The Editor she met was very interested in our programme and was keen to collaborate.

We went back to TVE a few days later and they expressed interest in running news updates on our Think Big Challenge and Dream Sharing Event. They even wanted to feature our initiatives as part of a programme they were making about education in Tanzania. Result!

1.30pm – After TVE we had a rather long dala-dala ride to the next company. We finally made it to Azam TV, but only reached the receptionist stage.


Dropping letters off at Azam TV

2.20pm – After a 15 minute walk, we reached the next set of companies, grouped under Mwananchi Communications. As well as Mwananchi newspaper, the company also owns a paper called The Citizen. I really liked the citizen, having read an interesting article by them the day before on the importance of teaching entrepreneurial skills in schools – so was excited to be at their offices.


We finished the day with a trip to Mwanachi and The Citizen Newspapers

3.45pm – We were finally done with the day’s visits! We took the dala-dala back to base camp but on the way, stopped off for some food. It was chapatti with chicken (kuku) and noodles in a delicious sauce (makange). So delicious!


We finished the day with a delicious (late!) lunch

6.00pm – Having finished the daily project briefing and wound down for the day, it was time for choir practice. We’re working on a Swahili song called “Baba Yetu” for the Kite DSM Annual Fundraising Dinner in September. Having eaten a huge meal so late, I skipped dinner and headed back to the room – quite a departure from the normal evening routine of a street food dinner followed by a game of Bananagrams in the canteen!

9.00pm – At the moment I’m stumbling through Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, a book I’ve always wanted to read but which takes more than ordinary levels of concentration. This, in combination with a busy day, sent me off to sleep under my mosquito net in 10 short minutes.


WaSH Spotlight: Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E)

Key vocabulary & definitions:

M&E: Monitoring and Evaluation

SUA: Sanitation Users Associations – a committee with one representative from each household that deals with problems which arise on the simplified sewerage network

Latrine: A toilet

The team:

The monitoring and evaluation team is this year made up of two volunteers; one from Kite DSM and one from CDI. Reuben Chacha is a Kite DSM volunteer, he is a 3rd-year student studying Municipal and Industrial Services Engineering. Bahumi Motlhanka, the CDI volunteer, is a 3rd-year Chemical Engineering student. The M&E structures within CDI and Kite DSM are regularly reviewed, last year an M&E officer was included on the CDI central committee and this year a KITE DSM M&E officer has been added to the Kite DSM committee. The M&E teams across all projects run by CDI and Kite DSM, are now representative of both organisations.


Theory of Change:

The Theory of Change is a planning tool used by the M&E team to direct the work this summer. It is a comprehensive description and illustration of how and why the desired change is expected to happen in a particular context. The vision of the WaSH project is to provide simplified sewerage solutions for residents of informal settlements to avoid the transmission of diseases associated with unsuitable sanitation conditions.

The Theory of Change is constructed backwards after identifying the overarching goal: for the WaSH project, this is to solve the problem of sanitation in Vingunguti. It then maps out the necessary preconditions to achieve this goal, such as making sure that the residents in Vingunguti are engaged with the conversions of their pit latrines to the simplified sewerage system. The plan includes intermediate outcomes and activities relevant to all sub-teams within the WaSH project. One of the project’s intermediate outcomes is to create awareness of the importance of converting to the simplified sewerage system, this is achieved by providing training to the community on the importance of the system in relation to their general hygiene and wellbeing. To make sure that the plan is adaptable and relevant, the assumptions around which the theory is constructed have been considered, such as assuming that the residents in Vingunguti would be able to afford to adapt their latrines to join the simplified sewerage system. In practice, the theory of change shall be adapted as evidence gathered from the community either confirms or dispels the assumptions that were made initially. An example of the assumptions that are continuously reviewed is that of the affordability of the deferred payment structure. The M&E and Community Engagement teams interview residents and gather information about repayment rates and adapt the payment structure to suit the community.

The M&E team has made sure that the entire WaSH team is aware of the form of the Theory of Change so that each team can see how they fit into the ‘bigger picture’, as well as how the teams can collaborate to execute the project effectively.


Example of a theory of change diagram – they are not normally this pretty!


Previous WaSH M&E teams have monitored community satisfaction with the simplified sewerage network because the project can only be described as successful if it is perceived as such by the residents of Vingunguti. This work has been carried out using questionnaires, focus groups and interviews, working with the community-led SUAs to coordinate the efforts.

The plan for this year:

This year the M&E team plan on building on the work carried out by the past M&E teams by continuing to engage the community on issues around the simplified sewerage network. This will hopefully allow the pilot project to keep improving to better suit the community’s needs. We plan on using questionnaires, focus groups and interviews as appropriate, to gather information about hygiene practices, perceptions of the simplified sewerage network as well as challenges facing the residents from a sanitation perspective. These methodologies are designed with the Theory of Change in mind to realise the objectives, test the assumptions made and inform the current and future activities of the WaSH project teams.

The team plans on engaging with the residents in Vingunguti who are about to connect to the simplified sewerage network this summer, which will provide a clearer picture of the lives of the residents before and after being connected to the network. This will be done using questionnaires to determine certain health and hygiene markers and see whether there are improvements in these areas after being connected to the simplified sewerage network. This was an area of data collection identified by this year’s M&E team as requiring improvement.

In addition to the work that the M&E team will be doing this year, the team will be expanding its work to include developing the framework around the biodigester to better inform future strategic decisions around biogas. This is a new area for the M&E team and they are hard at work doing research into current industry standards and are trying to find the best way to make adaptations to the framework within which the biogas project is run.

The future:

The M&E carried out in the future will allow the WaSH Team to gauge the community engagement in the WaSH project. By gathering information on community attitudes and aspirations for the WaSH project, the M&E team hopes to inform the direction of the project going forwards so as to facilitate the full transition of the project into the community’s hands.


A Day in the Life of a Health M&E Volunteer

Welcome to the Day in the Life series, where you can get to know the volunteers and what they do every day in a more informal way!


My name is Katherine Wong, the Monitoring and Evaluation Officer of Health Team. I decided to volunteer with CDI because I wanted to gain some fieldwork and real-life experience on how to conduct research. As a psychology student, it is very difficult for us to apply what we learn in university to real life, and I think CDI provides me with a unique opportunity to do so. I also enjoy the process of working on a project from scratch, follow it through and evaluate the impact of our work at the end of the summer. I think this will be a challenging yet rewarding journey, I am looking forward to the things we could achieve as a team!


8:30 – Wakeup / Breakfast – I usually skip breakfast or have a few Digestives before heading out for work. (Totally not because I wake up super late every morning because I value sleep over everything.) When I do have breakfast at the canteen, this is what it looks like, plus some Nutella which my friends kindly share with me.


9:00 – Work time!

When I’m at the classroom, I usually have a cup of tea or a cup of coffee to kick-start my day. The plan of my day really depends on the amount of work I have, but for today, it looks something like this:

  • Complete M&E a day in the life blog post (Top priority!!!)
  • Emotional well-being student baseline survey data analysis
  • Coding for emotional well-being teacher interviews #1 – #6
  • Plan and design sampling method for NCDs workshop, Then speak to the central M&E officer, Adi.   


10.00 – Emotional well-being student baseline survey data analysis


There are currently two ongoing initiatives within the health team: emotional well-being and non-communicable diseases. For the emotional well-being project, we are collaborating with the Education team. I have been working closely with their M&E Officer for the past couple of weeks. Last week, we conducted our baseline survey with students from two different secondary school. We collected responses from a total of 114 students, and the survey consists of 18 questions, which means there are A LOT things to go through.


You can probably tell from that pile of surveys, we are dealing with a relatively large set of data right here. Emotional well-being is a topic I am personally very passionate about, so this is very exciting for me!

11:00 – Emotional well-being data analysis with Simina


It would be pretty tough if I had to go through all the surveys alone, so here is Simina – the M&E officer from the Education team, and together we have successfully finished analysing all the surveys! Yay!

Big shout-out to Simina for all her hard work despite the immense workload she is facing and thank you everyone on both the Health and Education team (Priyanka, Fatmah, Oliva, Florida, Nasma, Irene, Mahamudi) for going onsite to conduct these surveys and interviews. Also, a token of gratitude for all the Kite volunteers and our counterparts for translating the question and responses from Swahili to English, also for communicating with the schools – without you guys, none of this would have been possible.




After a morning of hard work, finally it’s FOOD TIME!!! I usually have wali (rice) and makange (beef), alongside with some oranges and banana. Sometime if we’re lucky, we get spinach and even some maharage (beans) on the side! It is always nice to sit and chill out with my team and friends from other projects, especially hearing about what others are working on at the moment. Occasionally, we will have weird, philosophical discussion such as the nature of chicken as a continuous verse a discrete concept. Other times, we would have a heated debate about whether the beans they serve are peanuts or not.


14:00 – Back to work! Coding teacher interviews


After lunch, I’ll be working on coding the teacher interviews from the schools we surveyed. I learned about qualitative analysis at university, but this is my first time actually doing it myself. In the emotional well-being initiative, all the qualitative data will be analysed using a bottom-up/data-driven approach. As there are no prior studies on student mental health in Tanzania, this makes it difficult for us to form theories prior to research.


17:30 – End of work!


We usually have our daily briefing at 16:30, where we come together as a team and update each other on the things that we have been working on during the day, plus our progress so far. Here is a group photo of the health team!



I usually have street food at night, and whenever I have mishkaki (meat skewers), I often have to protect my food from the hungry cats in the canteen…



23:00 – Bedtime!!

Today has been a very productive day – lot of work was completed, but I am exhausted. I will be working on more data analysis and drafting more surveys / interview question tomorrow. My days are generally quite different, as they really depends on the progress of the project. Some tasks might take days to finish, while others can be done within the hour. Although many may say that data analysis and drafting surveys seems to be quite dull, personally I find this quite exciting. It is exactly what I was hoping to do when I decided to volunteer with CDI. Through working on sensitive topics such as mental health and NCDs,  CDI also made me become more mindful of cultural differences between different countries.

Going through some of the responses we have collected from the surveys and interviews, there is often a sense of helplessness within me, but also an intense feeling of wanting to do more for the locals. Stepping back for a second, two months is a very short period and there are only a limited number of things which can be achieved. Yet in the face of this realisation, I still want to make the most of this summer, and hopefully, create some positive changes for various communities.

Let’s end this blog post on a lighter note, here is a cute kitten outside my room, AWWW!!


Meet the KompyutHer Programme Officer!

By Aditi Arora, Education Project Volunteer

One of my fundamental motivations for volunteering in the Education team with CDI this summer was to be actively involved in improving women’s access to education in Tanzania. Until recently, Tanzania was listed as having one of the lowest rates of enrolments in secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa.  In particular, indicators examining various facets of development suggest that women and girls in Tanzania remain amongst the most marginalised individuals in Sub-Saharan Africa. To this extent it is clear that women’s education is in desperate need of improvement in Tanzania, and I could not wait to dedicate my summer to implement a programme that would seek to improve women’s access to education in Dar es Salaam.

I am the UK KompyutHer programme officer this year and my role this summer is to expand the initiative from initial one-day pilot last summer, to a full-blown programme incorporating workshops lasting six weeks.

Our objectives for KompyutHer this summer are as follows:

  1. To encourage girls to pursue STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) subjects at higher education level
  2. Increase the confidence of the girls, equipping them with skills for their futures
  3. To ensure that over the course of the scheme each candidate (100%) will compose a CV in a document format.

I have been liaising with my counterpart Geofrey throughout the year in order to design the curriculum for this year’s KompyutHer programme. Ultimately we decided that each of the six sessions would consist of a different theme and target a different aspect of the computer (e.g. computer components, Microsoft Office etc.). We held a needs assessment morning within our first working week in order to gain a deeper understanding of the needs of the participants and integrate their insightful feedback into the content and design of the curriculum.

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The first workshop!

After many months of skype calls, emails and word docs, on Wednesday 8th August, the first KompyutHer workshop finally took place! It was a hectic yet an exhilarating day co-ordinating various logistical matters and ensuring that the workshop was running on time whilst covering all content was covered. Above all, it was a truly rewarding experience to watch months of hard work of curriculum design and logistics planning spring to life!

Although my efforts to learn Swahili has meant that I am able to sustain conversations on an individual basis or in small groups, I definitely am not proficient in Swahili to be able to teach and answering questions in the language. Although I’m pretty talkative, I dread public speaking and get very nervous presenting to a large audience. Fortunately, Geofrey is a talented public speaker and confidently led the first session in Swahili (and intermittently translating for me!). Meanwhile, I assisted participants with using the computers and led icebreaker activities. What a dream team! During the session I conducted observations for each participant and this truly allowed me to reflect on the kinds of the theoretical material that I learned in my Masters, which was a lovely way to finish my year in Cambridge.

For me the most rewarding part of the day was ultimately having the opportunity to meet the young women who were opting to carve time out of their days to participate in our workshops. These young women – some of whom were mothers – were actively choosing to engage in informal education despite their various familial duties and cultural expectations. These 25 young women filled me with hope that the plight of women’s education in Tanzania can truly improve. This experience also served as a reminder to me that ambition is ultimately the seed that prospers into the flower of success – and most importantly, that ambition is genderless.

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I hope I can continue to learn as much from these women as they learn from me in the workshops!

Looking forward to the next session!

Career Network Support: Still Worthwhile?

By Sophie Wilson, CDI Education Volunteer, 2018

This year, one of the Education team’s major initiatives will be to continue the Career Network Support (CNS) scheme. CNS consists of different workshop series and an entrepreneurial competition, intended to help secondary-school students in Dar es Salaam develop the soft skills highly valued by Tanzanian employers. The CNS cycle has evolved under the custodianship of the Cambridge Development Initiative (CDI) and Kite DSM over the past three years. CNS is front of everyone’s minds this week, as we ramp up preparations for the launch of 2018’s Think Big Challenge on 25th August.

It’s a fitting occasion to talk about CNS and I wanted to write this post for three reasons; i. to evaluate the relevance of the need being addressed, within the wider context of education and employment in Tanzania, ii. to clarify what CNS is and see how it addresses this need, and iii. to evaluate its impact.


The shift from content to competence

Skills mismatch in Sub-Saharan Africa is partially contributing to the region’s unemployment rate, which stood at 7.2% in 2017 [1]. Youth unemployment in Tanzania is estimated between 10-15% [2]. Many youth who enter the job market at times do not have the necessary practical skills to flourish. In response to the need for students to develop more analytical and market-oriented skills, the Tanzania Institute of Education (TEA) has made significant changes to the secondary school curriculum, including the introduction of new subjects such as computer literacy, unified science and social skills; actions which reflect a general shift in focus from content to competence [3].

However, the uptake of graduates into government and private sector jobs in Tanzania remains low. Many observers attribute this to the lack of participatory teaching and soft skills in school curricula, which would enable students to engage more critically with what they are taught. Analytical and problem-solving skills are not actively taught in schools; nor is career counselling common [3].


Figure 1: Bo Peabody writes that entrepreneurs like Richard Branson tend to be ‘B’ students; instead of acing one skill in particular, they are good at a variety of things [4].

There is a clear and persistent need for proactive, skills-based learning over age-old techniques such as rote-memorisation in Tanzanian secondary schools. This reflects not only national and regional shifts in job market demand, but wider global transformation. The cheap and low-skilled labour once the source of competitive advantage in East Asian economies has been superseded by automation. Now, non-cognitive and socio-emotional skills are in demand. Yet many students continue to believe that what they are taught in the classroom adequately reflects the requirements of the job market [3].

Creating the context for success

The CNS initiative tries to address this challenge by simulating an environment in which students can develop such skills, particularly entrepreneurial thinking. These skills are best taught in context, and it is hoped that the opportunity to practice them will improve students’ confidence to succeed.

But before we can proceed any further, what actually is CNS?

Newbies to the Education team often need the 101 on this topic. Although you can peruse the components of the initiative in more detail here, I’ve tried to condense it down into a graphic, so as to distil the key features of CNS.


Figure 2: The Career Network Support (CNS) initiative, deconstructed

Our 2018 volunteers will be involved with all stages of the CNS cycle, organising the launch of the Think Big Challenge and Dream Sharing Event as our major summer events. In order to enable students to capture the full benefits, consistency is key; Youth Empowerment Clubs (YECs) will therefore also be implemented in the schools and continue throughout the year, so that students have a chance to use their new skills, as well as to develop and grow them.

As CDI is staffed with student volunteers from Cambridge University, the CDI model is constrained by the factors of committee turnover on an annual basis and a low on-the-ground presence of volunteers in Tanzania for the majority of the year. For this reason, the model of CDI and our partner organisation Kite DSM is to generate, pilot, test and launch initiatives during 8-week summer seasons, then to find suitable local handover partners so that the initiatives can be sustained.

Get ready for another acronym. In the case of CNS, our partner is Bridge for Change (BFC), a local NGO based in Dar es Salaam. BFC ensures that student participants in CNS receive ongoing mentorship and oversight as they implement their initiatives. BFC also ensures that the CNS cycle is renewed annually and that the impact of YECs is monitored over the course of the year [5]. Soon, CDI and Kite DSM will transition full responsibility for CNS to BFC.

A programme with two outcomes

CNS generates two distinct outcomes. First, there are the unique initiatives developed within the Think Big Challenge. In previous years, these have ranged from transforming waste litter into fuel, to setting up a study area; from teaching English to younger students, to making their own cleaning equipment; from educating the community about the importance of girls’ education to setting up a secret society to enforce school security. Whilst these initiatives are not tracked by CDI and Kite DSM’s monitoring and evaluation teams, the YECs support students in sustaining their initiatives beyond the summer.

Second, there is the impact on participants themselves. Uplift in five key skills is tracked by the Education team – leadership, presentation, teamwork, confidence and problem-solving. Last year, interviews held mid-way through the challenge with focus group participants showed that these are front of mind for students at the start and end of CNS [6].


Figure 3: Mid-CNS cycle interviews with students in 2017, represented as a word cloud

In 2016, self-evaluation assessments conducted by CDI indicated that students’ ability to work collaboratively, feel confident in their own ideas and critically evaluate an idea increased as a result of CNS. They also reported feeling better able to maintain enthusiasm over an extended project period; something they rarely had exposure to within the regular school curriculum [5].

Doing things differently

Pulitzer Prize-winning author Thomas Friedman has written about the need for students to remain “innovation-ready” [4]. With this and the Education team’s overall vision in mind, CNS’ core goal is to ensure that students leave school better prepared for employment. The scheme creates an environment for students to think more experimentally without fear of failure or punishment; a very real concern in an environment where caning is normal and ubiquitous. As we gear up to our launch on Saturday, we remain mindful of the importance, and very real need, for helping students learn how to become more entrepreneurially-minded. After all, as Albert Einstein said, “If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got”.



[1] International Labour Organisation (ILO). 2017. World Employment Social Outlook Trends Report.—dgreports/—dcomm/—publ/documents/publication/wcms_541211.pdf

[2] Amy Fallon. 2017. East Africa’s teeming youth are in a race to acquire skills for a job market that’s left many behind. Quartz Africa.

[3] Esther Kibakaya. 2017. When your skills are not relevant in the job market. The Citizen.

[4] Florida Rodov and Sabrina Truong. 2015. Why schools should teach entrepreneurship. Entrepreneur.

[5] CDI Education Project. 2016. Monitoring and Evaluation Report.

[6] CDI Education Project, 2017. Monitoring and Evaluation Report.