Asking Questions and Finding Answers
December 8 2016

The Gweru Drop-in Centre caters to the needs of Gweru’s street-children, aiming to rehabilitate them into mainstream society and education, reunifying them with their families, and providing a meal every week day.  Through ALERT, a Basic Life Skills course was introduced to help students develop ‘soft skills’ that will support them in their lives.

Recent lessons have focussed on the skills of asking questions and understanding how to find out answers, ensuring that students are able to:

  1. Think of appropriate questions to ask to help solve problems
  2. Look at a large problem and break it down into smaller parts
  3. Understand what a question is asking
  4. Research solutions to questions using a wide variety of resources

The first lesson began with a warm-up wordsearch, after which students were tasked with using questioning words, ‘where’, ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ in a range of given situations, such as asking for directions to a particular place. 

In the following lesson, students participated in a series of different activities designed to practice working outside of familiar or comfortable learning styles.  In the first activity, students were given a map of Africa and asked questions such as, ‘Where is your country on the map?’, ‘What is the name its capital city?’ and ‘Name a country which shares a border with Zimbabwe’.  A story, ‘The Tortoise and the Hare’, was read out in activity two to test the students’ ability to retain information received aurally, and to answer questions based on what they had heard. In activity three, the information was presented in a factual book about lions, and students were asked questions pertaining to the facts they had read.  Graphs showing the local climate were introduced in activity four, to teach students how to read information recorded visually to answer questions including ‘Which month is the hottest?’ and ‘What pattern do you notice when looking at the temperature and the rainfall?’  The last activity involved conducting primary research within the classroom to answer specific questions, such as ‘Who is the tallest person in your group?’ and ‘What time is it?’.

Throughout the activities, the students worked together to find the answers.  Those who understood a task helped those who were having difficulty, while those who are more confident with speaking and reading in English, supported those who are not. The children depended on each other, a positive sign that they have taken on-board previous lessons about team work and how working together makes problem solving easier.


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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