Employee volunteers from Barracuda Networks joined Team4Tech staff for another transformative virtual project driving positive change for learners in Tanzania.
In a rural Maasai community in northwest Tanzania, 78% of households live below the poverty line of $1.25/day, and girls and women face severe gender discrimination. Orkeeswa, an education nonprofit and Team4Tech NGO partner, serves this very community. Orkeeswa’s student-centered, skills-based programming focuses on cultivating and empowering leaders—especially female leaders, with the majority of their students being girls.
Team4Tech connected knowledgeable employee volunteers from Barracuda Networks with teachers and staff from Orkeeswa to accelerate this important NGO’s work helping their students develop the skills to become engaged citizens and leaders in their community.
Co-Designing Curricula for Career-Connected Tech Education with Employee Volunteers
Over the course of seven weeks, Team4Tech facilitated a remote team of 13 skilled volunteers from Barracuda Networks as they leveraged their experience, knowledge, and expertise to work closely with Orkeeswa educators on the development of two new curricula. Volunteers collaborated with Orkeeswa to develop curricula for Pre-Form to Form 6 grades, or students between the ages of 11-20:
- a robotics and coding curriculum
- a media literacy and online safety curriculum
Robotics and Coding Curriculum
My sub-team focused on developing a comprehensive curriculum around electronics, mechanics, and computer programming to meet the needs of Orkeeswa, which we believe will effectively assist Orkeeswa in its vision and objectives for the school and for its students.”—Alice Anderton-Yang, Team4Tech volunteer and Senior Corporate Counsel at Barracuda.
Through consulting sessions with Orkeeswa to learn more about the local and cultural context, the schooling system, and the current challenges with the existing robotics curriculum, Barracuda’s employee volunteers helped develop scaffolded robotics and coding lesson plans and specific guidance on which topics to cover in each of the grade levels.
Every new lesson plan includes a topic overview, resource/material list, activity instructions, and additional linked resources. Lesson activities are also flexible and designed for individual, small-group, and whole-class instruction.
Orkeeswa’s robotics teacher will implement this updated curriculum in existing robotics classes with current and future students. The skills and knowledge gained from the curriculum will also equip Orkeeswa students to participate in national and regional robotics competitions and prepare students for post-secondary education and careers related to computer science.
Media Literacy & Online Safety Curriculum
Another volunteer subteam focused on developing a new media literacy and online safety curriculum for Orkeeswa’s Life Skills Education program. While students have very limited access to computers and the internet, part of Orkeeswa’s long-term strategic plan is to reach a 1:1 computer-to-student ratio. On the path toward this goal, it is important to teach all students about internet usage and safety principles.
Developing interactive activities that teach digital literacy and online safety for students with limited access to the Internet and computers was a challenge that the volunteers overcame with their creativity and expertise. Volunteers developed nine detailed lesson plans and materials for implementation across different grade levels. Lesson topics were grouped into three categories:
- understanding how to use the internet
- overview of safety principles
- safely using social media/safeguarding personal data
With this curriculum, we expect to impact over 350 students in this school. And since we are touching different topics around mental health and how students keep themselves safe while using the internet, we expect them to learn these things—but also to impact or to share this knowledge with others around them in the community.”– Grace Kanuthi, Student Wellness Coordinator, Orkeeswa School Tanzania.
Igniting a Passion for Education That Impacts a Wider Community
The curriculum development work from employee volunteers on this project will reach learners beyond the walls of the Orkeeswa secondary school. Orkeeswa emphasizes community outreach through trained and motivated Orkeeswa student and alumni leaders running holistic programming in local primary schools. Orkeeswa also functions as a knowledge incubator, supporting the ongoing impact of alumni through professional development, higher education scholarships, and small grants and mentorship for entrepreneurs.
One of our core values at Orkeeswa is: when you get, give. And that’s what our students do on a daily basis. When they receive something, whether it’s an opportunity, skills, or knowledge, they pass that on. So know that when you support these students, they’re going to support so many more people in their community. Thank you Team4Tech and Barracuda volunteers!”—Elizabeth Nichols, Director of Strategy at Orkeeswa