Many of the youth and adults whom EKARI support face a crisis. At schools in Malawi, youth are generally taught to merely memorize the correct answer to exam questions. They do not learn how to problem solve or think critically. This challenge is only exacerbated for illiterate adults – when you are denied opportunities as a child and also never receive life skills training to become a self sufficient adult, the deck is double stacked against you. This lack of critical thinking skills exacerbates the “dependency syndrome” – an attitude that people cannot solve their own problems without outside help – in the area where EKARI works.
To combat this, through EKARI’s programs, we provide not only access to a classroom education, but also an introduction to the lifelong learning skills necessary for youth and communities to overcome the dependency syndrome and lift themselves out of extreme poverty.
Initially we designed our programs mainly for educational purposes, so that (1) students would have a better chance to graduate high school and go onto college and (2) adults would become literate and be able to successfully run small businesses. With the prevalence of the dependency mindset, we soon realized that our programs needed to focus on more than just tutoring and library books. We therefore recently started to incorporate life skills training – training our beneficiaries cannot access without EKARI.
Through our Tutoring and Mentorship Programs, students develop critical thinking and lifelong learning practices as they learn to check in with themselves and accurately assess what they know and don’t know and determine how best to learn more on their own without relying solely on their overworked teachers. This allows youth to be flexible and to engage with challenging learning materials as they continue their educations, move into employment, and deal with everyday life obstacles.
In addition, through our Health Education, Computer, Higher Education Prep, and Apprenticeship Programs, we offer life skills training sessions for youth regarding HIV/AIDS, computer skills, goal setting, career guidance, interview preparation, resume creation, networking, and much more.
Moreover, through our Adult Literacy Program, adults learn not only to read and write, but also life skills such as personal hygiene, sanitation, and finances.
Access to a quality education coupled with lifelong learning skills is the best pathway out of poverty. Our goal is to continue to further incorporate life skills training within all of EKARI’s programs. By providing life skills training we can ensure that our beneficiaries (over 70 youth and over 250 adults) have the ability to identify and change their own learning patterns, ultimately increasing their problem solving skills.
Help us expand our efforts to provide life skills training for youth and adults in Malawi! Make a contribution to our year-end campaign through GlobalGiving! Any amount will help as we are currently competing for a bonus prize for most donors. Spread the word!