iSPEAK Soft Skills Development Campaign

The iSPEAK Soft Skills Development Campaign is a campaign aimed at delivering soft skills training to youth throughout Botswana and eventually, Southern Africa.

The campaign focuses on 5 main skill sets, namely: Public Speaking, Presentation Skills, Negotiation Skills, Time Management and various aspects of personal development.

The campaign began in Botswana in 2014 and reached over 2000 students in 5 different regions in the country. Being a campaign that primarily targets young adults (high school scholars), it partnered with The Ministry of Education and Skills development, as well as a number of schools in Botswana to aid in maximizing the traction and reach of the program.

Training in the 5 main areas is delivered through workshops, boot camps, dramatic plays, various media and games so as to relate to the interests of the targeted age groups.

CAMPAIGN OBJECTIVES

The campaign has 4 primary objectives:

1) To actively invest in the soft skills development of school going and out of school young adults, so as to help nurture a generation of well rounded young leaders.

2) To lobby for the official recognition of soft skills as being vital tools in the pursuit of academic and professional excellence.

3) To sensitize communities about the importance of soft skills development, with a specific focus on the role that soft skills play in shaping young adults into vocal, confident leaders within their communities.

4) To create a platform where young people can meet, interact and discuss issues of importance to them, in the absence of coercion and undue censorship.

HOW THE OBJECTIVES WERE ACHIEVED

The aforementioned objectives were achieved through training in the various soft skill sets, facilitating workshops for discussion, showcasing dramatic plays that outlined the importance of these objectives and hosting public speaking and debating tournaments themed around these objectives to ignite discourse about them.

Each of the above was done in 5 different regions in the country so as to avoid the centralization of discourse and the systematic exclusion of rural communities.

Numerous private, public and non governmental organisations were kind enough to aid with various cost related aspects of the campaign.

The tools were used in the most interactive ways possible and were thus able to engage and involve participants very well. An example of this is how the plays were acted out by participants and how a number of discussions were led by participants as well.

CAMPAIGN INNOVATIONS

Artists:
One of the biggest innovations was inviting local artists to speak and perform at the meets. Seeing as a lot of the young people involved idolized these artists, it breathed an air of interest into their minds.

Avoided Lecturing Blueprint:
The campaign avoided lecturing as much as possible. Students spend most of their lives in classrooms being lectured and so dramatic plays, games and discussion workshops were used.

Made Prizes Available:
In an attempt to reward merit, we made various prizes available for students who participated most or performed exceptionally well at their tasks.

CAMPAIGN IMPACT

Impact on Education:
The project is anticipated to have a positive impact on the participants' learning. This is because it invested in confidence and self-esteem, which naturally increases one's willingness to participate.

Impact on Community:
Grooming young adults to be confident and vocal is extremely beneficial to their communities as it means that they will begin to be involved in discourse surrounding things that concern them. This widens the input in social discussions and means that communities are better able to cater for the needs of young people.

Impact on Country:
A country where young people recognize the need to assume leadership roles and have the ability to do so, is far better off than a country that ostracizes young people from leading. As leaders of tomorrow, the grooming of young people is a direct investment in the future of a country.

Impact by Numbers:
2000 youth throughout the country were impacted. those 2000 can now impact the lives of others.

CHALLENGES FACED

Finances:
One of the biggest challenges that this campaign faced, and will continue to face going forward, is funding.Seeing as it reaches out to areas all across the country, expenses such as travel expenses, lodging and venue booking weigh heavily on the project's budget.

Time:
The most convenient and impactful time to run the project is during the school calendar year because during holidays students are either on holiday or are difficult to reach. This means that time has to be taken away from school for school going students to attend and understandably, many schools are reluctant.

Parents not recognizing the importance:
A lot of parents prioritize academic excellence above all else and don't recognize the importance of this campaign. Those children in turn miss out.

LESSONS LEARNT

Through all the challenges that this project has faced, the most valuable lesson that should be taken away from it all is that perseverance is vital for the success of any project.

Secondly, that having the right team to aid in the carrying out of a campaign is crucial.