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 of the Foundation Programme were placed in local private, English medium secondary schools to complete their education because completing secondary education is necessary to find formal employment in Tanzania. We recognised a need to change our programme when we experienced high drop-out rates, an increase (or return) of psycho-social problems and risky behaviours, 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.
We created the ISC Programme on site at The Umoja Centre to offer consistent, 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. A two-year curriculum, rather than the standard four-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 team conducted detailed research that showed the success of similar QT/PC programmes in the Arusha District prior to launching our ISC programme. Each of the centres included in this research offer 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.
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 and national examinations, 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).