A Question of Questioning
June 27 2016

Kids Club participants this month at the Gweru Drop-in Centre for street children focussed on the “Enquirer” module of our basic life skills course.  The aim is to assist them to develop questions, collect information, and use evidence to answer their questions. 

Having been introduced to the concept, students were asked to put it into their own words, to help ensure that they understood the aim of the module.   They were then given a word search to complete, containing words associated with asking questions or finding answers, such as: analyse, enquire, and investigate.  On completion of the activity, a discussion took place about the meanings of the words in the puzzle. 

Asking Questions:

During the next lesson, the students focussed on the importance of asking questions.  Having been divided into six groups, each group was assigned a project volunteer representing different nationalities.  They were tasked with asking questions of the volunteers in order to present a profile of that nationality to the other groups.  Students asked about population, currency, climate, and animals, amongst many other facets of life in the volunteers’ home countries.

What Am I?

In another activity, one student drew an object or animal, concealing it from the rest of the group.  The others had to guess what had been drawn by asking questions.  Many of the guesses were random to begin with, but then students realised they had to change their method of questioning to get to the answer.  They soon started asking more relevant and specific questions e.g. is it an animal, is it domesticated or wild, does it have fur, can it be eaten, is it dangerous.  With practice, the students found they got quicker and quicker at guessing the images.

What, Where, Who, How and Why

Students then learnt about question starters i.e. what, where, who, how and why.  They were tasked with asking a series of questions to find out more about a volunteer, such as what is your name, how old are you, where do you come from, and why are you visiting Zimbabwe?

What I’ve Learnt

Finally, the class was asked about the skills they had learnt during the lessons on being an enquirer.  Students said they learnt that asking the right questions is important as a way to gather information, a means to learn new things, and to help them make good decisions based on the information gathered.

About the Drop-In Centre

The Centre exists with the aim of rehabilitating street children into mainstream society and education, and reunifying them with their families.  To compliment this programme, ALERT introduced a Basic Life Skills course to help positively mould the character of these young adults.

About Kids Club

Kids Club is our opportunity to implement our Basic Life Skills Course.  The aim of the course is to assist children and adolescents to gain essential skills needed to operate effectively in society in an active and constructive way.  Topics in the course include; self-esteem, coping with stress, effective communication, decision making, problem solving and non-violent conflict resolution.  The course has been developed by David Brackstone of John Taylor High School, UK using a programme in use at that school and adapted for use in our schools in Africa.

About ALERT Education Centres (AEC)

Basic Life Skills courses are one aspect of the work of our ALERT Education Centres.  The AEC operations at Livingstone (Zambia), Victoria Falls and Antelope Park (Zimbabwe) are all aimed at supporting the formal education system by offering extra-curricular activities to enhance student learning, and assisting with access to education for vulnerable students.  Current programs include the provision of classes in conservation education, basic life skills, and English literacy.  In addition, we provide funding to pay the fees of vulnerable students to take part in education from pre-school to university level, and fully funded internship and facilitated research placements for university level students.  Future programmes will incorporate classes in numeracy, health & nutrition, physical education and business studies/entrepreneurship, as well as a variety of vocational training.  The AEC is operated in association with Coventry University (UK), Midlands State University (Zimbabwe) and Copperbelt University (Zambia), and with the assistance of David Brackstone of John Taylor High School (UK).   The first AEC, at Antelope Park, was opened in 2012 by the then Zimbabwe Minister of Education, Mr. David Coltart.

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