*By Clementina Sarange – Akili Dada Intern.

The Amazon as we know it is the largest river in South America rising in Peruvian Andes and flowing into the Atlantic. Aside from that, folk etymology informs us of a legendary nation of women warriors reputed to have lived in ancient Scythia. Most important of all, it refers to a tall, aggressive and strong willed woman and thus the word amazon is a reflection of who a dada is. At the beginning of this year, Akili Dada set out to equip students with essential 21st century skills such as learning, literacy, life and social skills.

The first term of the educational calendar was focused on developing the students to be engaged thinkers by learning critical thinking and problem solving skills, creativity and innovation skills. Let’s look at how far we have come

A.    Critical thinking

‘Saving the Egg.’

Impossible! At least that is what springs into my mind at first. However this was not the case for our dadas, with a pair of scissors, tape, paper and an egg, 90% of our dada’s saved the egg. This exercise helped our dadas practice ‘Critical Thinking’ in a practical and hand on way. Though all teams demonstrated a different approach and processes to saving the egg, each team did think through the problem at hand and developed solutions they deemed fit in their circumstances.

B.     Innovation for good

‘Learning from the barefoot grandmamas.’

These exceptional women left their homes for the first time for six months for training to become solar engineers and bring light to their communities. They served as solid role models to the girls who saw unity in the fact that the women came from all over Africa; Tanzania, Zanzibar, South Sudan, Malawi and Liberia, learnt determination and strove for the cultivation of leadership abilities and the art of thinking as if no box existed.

The challenge for our dadas therefore was , if grand mamas can take 6 months to achieve their goal of becoming solar engineers, how much more ca they achieve by investing their time and passion to achieve their career goals?

C.     ART is enterprising

When I grow up, I want to be…

With the conventional way of thought, you would probably fill in, doctor, pilot, engineer or lawyer. Most, if not all of us have had such aspirations while we were little. There is no shame in that but it’s a high time we removed the conventional dress and put on a more fashionable wear of emerging careers such as photography, graphic design, culinary arts and many more.

Ever heard of Shark Tank? To emphasize this notion, the Shark Tank experience was recreated and basing judgment on creativity, finishing and thought process with the end consumer product in mind the dadas came up with various products such as hand bags, hair ribbons, center pieces, notebooks and picture frames made entirely of recycled materials.

Within a limited time span, we got the above mentioned art works, how much more can be done with a lot more time to really engage our creativity?

D.    The power of debate

‘Speech breeds power, ignorance breeds helplessness.’

Listen, think, speak and self-esteem are must-haves when taking up a debate usually on a question of fact, value or policy. With knowledge comes the full power of speech and freedom of expression.

It is with this exercise that the young Dada’s developed these skills and learnt not to get into conflict with an individual but only to conflict with the idea.

With the first term gone and the above accomplished, it is needless to say that the goal was achieved. Team work and not forgetting the Dada code of sisterhood, transformation, excellence and integrity have brought us thus far. The urge to create a brighter future for the 21st century young ladies keeps the drive alive, there is no looking back unless it is in the mirror, to view and rectify our mistakes.