Kisa Scholars Launch KisaNet at 1st Annual Kisa Internship!
On July 12th, the first annual Kisa Internship came to an exciting end as parents, teachers, business people, and community leaders from the Arusha region watched 21 Kisa Scholars, poised and confident, present their business plan for the enterprise they created in just over week. In the span of 10 days, the 21 secondary school girls learned the ins and outs of project planning, marketing, and budgeting, created their own digital stories, co-authored a children’s book, played more than a few team building games (summer camp favorites), held a talent show and a dance party, and most significantly, launched a small business of their own -- KisaNet!
As part of the innovative KisaNet model, the Kisa Scholars will provide low-cost computer and Internet classes to their fellow students at their secondary schools. Because their classes are “for students, by students”, and offer promotions like 10 free minutes of Internet time at the beginning of each class, the Kisa Scholars believe they are a unique IT education provider in the student market. It was important to the Scholars that, through KisaNet, they would teach computer classes at a low cost to students and community members who otherwise couldn’t afford to take such courses. They recognized that, while most students have never before used a computer, most jobs in Tanzania now require basic familiarity with computers, and the government now even requires students to apply to college online.
The Scholars proved themselves both as teachers and leaders when we invited 10 young students to come take a sample KisaNet class on the last day of the Internship. Immediately upon their students’ arrival, the Kisa Scholars welcomed them like family–playing games with them, singing songs, making introductions– and then led them in an introductory Internet class which, among other lessons, allowed them to create their first personal email accounts. Many of their guest students had seen computers before, but had never had the opportunity to sit down and use one. The afternoon was a real treat for the guest students, who came from two NGOs in the Arusha region – one which works to provide education to street children and the other which houses and provides education for young Maasai girls escaping early marriage.
After the class, several Kisa Scholars traded email addresses with these students so that they could keep in touch, and it was clear that the Scholars are already visionary leaders in the making – taking the initiative to become mentors to other young people in their community. Many of the Kisa Scholars did not have what you would call easy childhoods; several have lost one or both of their parents and often their families only have enough money for necessities and school fees. Yet you would not know the struggles the Scholars have faced based on their zest for school, Kisa, and becoming part of the next generation of leaders in Tanzania. Hongera sana (Congratulations) to the first class of Kisa Scholars, who have already begun becoming inspiring leaders and mentors to others!