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The Ota Initiative Blog

Preparing for Another Successful Program

Welcome back for another season of Ota activities! Head Teacher Pontian and I are gearing up for our next exciting summer of arts-and-science-based learning activities for the students of Kayanga, Tanzania. But first, let’s take a look back at our Winter 2017 program.

For our previous program, Pontian suggested we once again focus our science lessons on the human body now that our students are beginning to go through puberty. Not only did Pontian think this would be an important topic based on his interactions with students, but it is also a subject covered in the Tanzanian national science curriculum. During the program, we reviewed and expanded upon the functions and ongoing changes in different body parts (worry not, we did not get too risqué) and emphasized the importance of good personal hygiene and diet for health.

For our English portion of the program, we focused on constructing sentences using pronouns and expressing possession. We also continued our leadership lessons, and this time we challenged our students to consider how to tackle a specific societal issue – poverty. As part of this curriculum, we read students a leadership story about Oprah Winfrey, which Pontian reported was the most popular part of the program. Whether or not you like Oprah personally, her story about overcoming poverty to become a business mogul who now provides education for others through her charitable work is inspiring.

As with all our previous programs, our students demonstrated a significant increase in subject matter understanding from the start of the program to the end. The class average score increased by 31percent from 53 percent on our pre-test to 84 percent on the post-test. In addition, we tested returning students’ understanding of subject matter from the Spring 2017 program. Students scored an average of 71 percent on this test, down just 12 percent from the Spring 2017 program’s post-test average score of 83 percent.

As we continue to run our program, it is reassuring to continually see numbers such as these. Our students have demonstrated significant increases in understanding every program, and most programs the class has had an average score above 80 percent on the post-program test. Additionally, the fact that on average students remember 70+ percent of a program’s materials when tested on it six months later is outstanding. Not only are we teaching out students important subject matters, but we are doing so in a way that helps them retain information long term.

If you want to help us continue achieving these great results, please click on the "Donate" button at the top of this page to support our upcoming Summer 2018 program. Just $60 will cover the cost of providing one student with hands-on learning experiences during their school break this summer. Thank you as always for your support of our programs and stay tuned for more updates on what this summer’s Ota program will look like.

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