Umoja launched the Intensive Secondary Certificate (ISC) Programme in January 2017 in response to the poor developmental outcomes of Umoja’s youth placed in private secondary schools. Historically, graduates from the Foundation Programme were placed in local private, English medium secondary schools to complete their education. We recognised a need to change our programme when we experienced high drop-out rates, an increase in psycho-social problems, and an overall lack of pastoral care in the secondary system. Our target youth are highly vulnerable and require additional pastoral care to succeed in their education. They need close supervision, mentoring, and support from a qualified and caring team. Most of the secondary schools were unable to provide this level of care.
Completing secondary education is necessary to find formal employment in Tanzania. We created the ISC Programme on site at Umoja to offer high levels of support and ensure that our youth have the best chance of success in completing their education and participating in the job market. We have also been able to reduce our expenses by offering more educational services on site, spending less on private school fees, and condensing the four-year curriculum into two years. A two-year curriculum also enables our youth to catch up to their more fortunate peers and enter the job market while they are still young.
Our Unique Course
The ISC Programme at Umoja combines two national curricula: the Qualifying Test (QT) and Private Candidate (PC), each of which takes one year to complete. After successful completion of the PC course, an Umoja youth will be awarded a Form Four Secondary Certificate (O-Level / Year 10 equivalent). This will enable them to continue their education at colleges, vocational training centres, or to seek A-level qualification (Year 12 equivalent).
The first-year programme (QT) comprises of eleven subjects: History, Geography, Kiswahili, English, Civics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Mathematics, Bookkeeping, and Commerce. The second year (PC) comprises of combinations depending on the students ongoing educational preferences.
We have engaged the services of teaching interns to complement our full-time teaching staff in response to this expanded curriculum. These interns are carefully selected, fully qualified Tanzanian teachers who gain valuable practical teaching experience while waiting for Government teaching posts to be released. In the future, we aim to employ more full-time teachers to offer increased stability and continuity to the programme.
Our team conducted detailed research that showed the success of similar QT/PC programmes in the Arusha District prior to launching our ISC programme. These programmes included Jifundishe (“Teach yourself”), the Capricorn Institute of Education, and the Institute of Adult Education. Each of these centres offers part time and self-study modules for youth and adults to complete their studies. At Umoja our youth are with us full time and receive academic counselling and support which ensures they have a great opportunity to complete their studies successfully.