Developing a Career Pathways System in the Mara Region
In the past 10-15 years, there has been a growing recognition that there is a disconnect between what students are learning in the classroom and the job opportunities that are available after they leave school. Career Pathway Systems are a way to create that connection for students and communities. A career pathways system is a series of connected education, training, and support strategies that enable learners to secure relevant credentials and degrees and transition into a rewarding career within a target occupational area.
A career pathways system brings real-life learning to students and teachers, which allows them to build important academic, technical, and interpersonal skills simultaneously. This allows for more active career exploration for the jobs of tomorrow, which will make students more competitive in college and career. It also creates possibilities for multiple entry and exit points in education, giving students the possibility to earn important industry certifications and credentials while they are still in school, which helps students and families determine the right career path much earlier on.
To strengthen the alignment between education and employment needs in the Mara region, TDS partnered with Education Systems Center at Northern Illinois University (EdSystems) to conduct a field analysis to understand the industry sectors that are in high demand in Tanzania and to introduce the concept of career pathways aligned to those sectors. In the initial phase, TDS and EdSystems are working with the Mara Regional Office of Education and UMABU, the local implementing partner, to implement a career pathways pilot program in four schools using the 4-H model, with the intention of expanding to other schools in the region. Through the program, which is led by an educator on loan from the Regional Office of Education, students are gaining hands-on experience, and developing the skills needed to be effective in the workplace including public speaking and financial literacy. Students are also gaining awareness about, and exploring careers in various sectors including agriculture and entrepreneurship. The goal of the program is to increase the number of students with the skills needed in the Mara region, and ensure that once they leave school they can pursue careers that allow them to earn a sustainable wage to support their families, while at the same time strengthening the economy of the Mara region. The next phase of the program will include training teachers to embed career pathways strategies into the curriculum.