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SPEAKING LAB: Public Speaking and Leadership Development for Youth

Speaking Lab is a youth leadership and communication skills development initiative with the aim of improving youth employability in Rwanda.

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EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

Speaking Lab is a youth-led initiative that seeks to engage Rwanda's next generation in developing public speaking, confidence and leadership skills which will give them a competitive edge when applying for jobs and/or starting their own ventures. In Rwanda 36% of young people face unemployment and, despite the development of universities across the country, we can already predict this to rise because of the persistently stagnant job market. More and more, we are finding qualified graduates struggling to gain employment because they do not have adequate 'soft' skills to actually fulfill the demands of the job: a study by the Inter-University Council for East Africa in 2015 revealed that 52% of graduates in Rwanda leave university unfit for employment. The national education system has been successful in equipping students with practical and theoretical knowledge but has not promoted the importance of skills like public speaking, confidence building and leadership that can be the gateways to securing a job. Speaking Lab is a youth-led solution to ensuring all young people, university educated or not, are able to develop the 'soft' skills they require. By providing public speaking training to groups of 20-40 young people (at a time) graduating from high schools and universities across the country, we are dedicated to empowering the next generation with the confidence and ability to talk about their personal and professional story, passions and hopes for the future.

WHO BENEFITS?

The beneficiaries of Speaking Lab will be young people between 15 and 35 years, ranging from high school and college graduates to young professionals across the country. We hope that in the short term, the individual young participants will benefit by having the skills needed to enter the ever-changing job market. Beyond this, we also hope to be part of a wider cultural movement which values the importance of soft skills in boosting and reinvigorating the Rwandan economy.

TELL US MORE ABOUT YOU

Speaking Lab is an initiative by Ascendance Rwanda NGO. Our registration is in progress and will be fully completed by February 2017. Our organisation is made up of very passionate and dedicated public speakers and youth leaders who have developed their skills through Toastmasters International.

WHERE WILL YOUR IDEA BE IMPLEMENTED?

  • Rwanda

EXPERIENCE IN IMPLEMENTATION COUNTRY(IES)

  • Yes, for one year or less.

EXPERTISE IN SECTOR

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for over a year

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BECAUSE OF BENEFICIARY FEEDBACK?

The feedback from our beneficiaries has reinforced our determination to grow Speaking Lab even further! After our initial idea came about, we decided to pilot our model to self-evaluate it's successes and failures but also to gain firsthand feedback from the participants involved in the pilot. We are currently in the third month of implementing our pilot programme and so, when we received the exciting news that we had been shortlisted for the Amplify challenge, we decided to hold focus groups to hear the participant's likes, dislikes, thoughts, experiences and suggestions of Speaking Lab. We were absolutely taken aback and humbled by the fact 87% of the participants stated they will not hesitate to recommend Speaking Lab to a friend or colleague. A number of participants expressed that they the significant ‘failing’ of Speaking Lab at this point in time is that during the sessions, not every single person in the room was able to play an active, participatory role due to the set up of the session. As a team, we need to look at how we design the sessions to increase the amount of meaningful participation each person experiences during the session. See Prototype 1& 2 attachments.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA UNIQUE?

All our trainers are members of Toastmasters International, a respected and trusted organization in developing communication and leadership skills. Thus, our trainers have acquired skills to learn how to coach our beneficiaries (participants) to understand and appreciate how to prepare a good speech or presentation. Our model is one which is inspired by the Toastmasters International method in that it combines techniques and drills to nurture the habitual practice of effective public speaking with peer-evaluation. However, unlike Toastmasters International (and other similar initiatives), our model intends to be inclusive of everyone who attends each session. Everyone can learn from one another and so we involve everyone who attends the session from the very beginning - whether developing their public speaking skills by practising a speech in front of the group, or by being a peer-evaluator for the individual presenting (recognising and giving constructive criticism which is equally valuable to one's own individual skill development). Speaking Lab is a place to try, test and improve your skills without the expectation that there is 'one single way' to be a good public speaker.

WHY DO YOU THINK THAT THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HAS NOT BEEN SOLVED?

There are a number of organizations and government departments in Rwanda who provide career development and soft skills training to those who have completed their university education in preparation for the job market. We believe in the proverb 'the early bird catches the worm': the earlier you start preparing for something, the higher your chances are of achieving your goal. By intervening in high schools, tertiary institutions and universities, we strongly believe we will be able to have a greater impact in preparing Rwandan youth for life after school and, in particular, access more economic opportunities.

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT THIS IDEA?

The majority of the questions that our team has been reflecting upon are captured in the attached document, Prototype 1. In addition, it is worth noting that a number of students who are not members of the Speaking Lab visited the pilot sessions but never came back for a second time. This, naturally, has led to us asking: 1) What motivates these section of students that show minimal interest in Speaking lab? Finally, being in the early stages of our idea's development, we have yet to come up with a strategy for marketing and advertising Speaking Lab. One question we must consider is: 2) How can we design a communications/outreach campaign that will attract members and grow our project?

IS THIS IDEA NEW FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION?

Speaking Lab is a new idea for our organization so all our focus is on its development.

WHO WILL IMPLEMENT THIS IDEA?

This idea is being implemented by Ascendance Rwanda NGO (Full Regstration is in progess). This idea will be led by : Joshua Tahinduka - Coordinator Joseph Cheruiyot - Co-Coordinator Zeddy Misiga - Monitoring and Evaluation Officer Roger Gasore - Trainer Caroline Namara - Trainer Vanessa Rukundo - Trainer Raissa Mugisha - Trainer Katie Reid - Advisor All the above will devote their time to continue to make the idea as successful as possible.

We are currently running a three-month pilot of the Speaking Lab in three secondary schools and one Technical and Vocational Center in Kigali, Rwanda. This is being funded through sponsorship from the Imbuto Foundation until December 2016. The four Speaking Labs are located in three districts within Kigali city: Kicukiro, Gasabo and Nyarugenge districts.

At the beginning of the pilot, our team brought together 30 students from each school to form a Speaking Lab. In total, we therefore have 120 students being trained during weekly two-hour sessions on public speaking and leadership skills development by our team.

For each Speaking Lab, we have assigned a trainer who guides the students as they take either a speaking and/or evaluation-focused role. We have a monitoring and evaluation officer that receives a weekly report from each trainer after a session and prepares a condensed report of all the sessions that have taken place that week.

The project is now in its 8th week and is steadily growing by attracting more students who wish to be part of it. The Speaking Lab team in its entirety is made up of two coordinators, four trainers and one monitoring and evaluation officer.

SHARE ONE SENTENCE ABOUT THE IMPACT YOU WOULD LIKE THIS PROJECT TO HAVE FIVE YEARS FROM NOW, AND ONE QUESTION YOU NEED TO ANSWER TO GET THERE.

In five years, we envision to see at least three-quarters of our program beneficiaries either pursuing their desired careers or having the employ-ability skills they need to get jobs. In order to do this we need to answer the following question: How can we best measure the impact of our project?

MY ORGANIZATION'S OPERATING BUDGET FOR 2015 WAS:

  • We didn't have an operating budget

MY INTENDED BENEFICIARIES ARE:

  • Within 50 km of where our team does most of its work
  • Within 100 km of where our team does most of its work

HOW LONG HAVE YOU AND YOUR COLLEAGUES BEEN WORKING ON THIS PILOT PROJECT TOGETHER?

  • Less than 6 months

WHY ARE YOU INTERESTED IN JOINING AMPLIFY'S PORTFOLIO OF INNOVATORS?

Ascendance Rwanda is composed of passionate and highly dedicated team of trainers implementing the "Speaking lab". Although we are experienced as public speakers and trainers, we are a growing organization hence joining the Amplify team of innovators will help us grow, faster by learning from the team, increase our creativity and ultimately improve our product. This will have a direct positive impact on our beneficiaries as they will receive the best quality of services from our team.
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Attachments (5)

SPEAKING LAB Focus Group Results.pdf

To gather feedback for this phase of the IDEO Amplify challenge, we held focus groups with our pilot phase participants. These are the collated responses to the questions we posed.

IMG_20160910_125340.jpg

Antoine Kajangwe, Youth Empowerment & Mentorship Project Officer at Imbuto Foundation at the capacity building training for trainers.

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Thanks for a articles. You have done a great job.

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