How Schools Can Close the Skills Gap

As the Tanzanian economy shifts from being predominantly agricultural to diversified and industrialized, there is increasing demand for workers to develop the right mix of skills that drive continued growth. However, Tanzanian graduates often lack those skills. This skills gap is one of the biggest challenges in our education system today.

It is possible for secondary schools to help students develop the skills necessary to become the workforce this new economy needs. By developing these skills over time through a curriculum that fosters them, secondary students today can close the skills gap of tomorrow. 

Opportunity Education’s Quest Forward Learning program has been working to close the skills gap for future workers since it was first implemented in 2017. Quest Forward Learning helps secondary schools shift their teaching methodology. It prepares students for meaningful roles in Tanzania’s future workforce in 5 ways: 

1. Students gain professional skills.

Courses designed for Quest Forward Learning by Tanzanian professionals are skills-focused. Students practice focus, working efficiently, time management, organization, taking notes, and goal setting throughout fields of study. The curriculum cultivates hard work, professionalism, creativity, and resourcefulness.

Four students appear deeply engaged in their work, assembling a a complex cardboard structure on a work table in a Quest Forward School in Tanzania.
In Quest Forward Schools, students practice achieving solutions to human problems. Learners develop engineering design skills, essential for industrial development.

2. Students learn to embrace science, technology, and innovation.

Students access Quest Forward Learning through tablets and computers, access curriculum materials on the custom-designed Quest! app, and research topics using curated Internet resources. They become familiar and experienced with technology. The project-based curriculum exposes students to new ways of seeing and doing things. In the classroom, students are not passive listeners, but active, engaged participants. Mentors encourage learners to explore, ask questions, and experiment. Classroom activities routinely ask students to develop new solutions to old problems. When they graduate, students are ready to innovate. They have a creative, problem-solving mindset to help them solve problems across economic sectors in their careers.

Students gather around a work table, with touch-screen tablets and two candles, one lit and one extinguished under a beaker, on the table in front of them.
Students at Royal Secondary School work together on a science quest, using critical thinking and technology to solve problems.

3. Students obtain hands-on experience in and understanding of their world.

A guiding principle of Quest Forward Learning is “Learning Happens Everywhere and Always.” Learning is not confined to a classroom. Quest Forward students have highly valuable opportunities to engage and learn with the world outside their schools. They see how their classroom learning is applied in real life to deepen their understanding of both the topic and their world. For instance, throughout their school work, learners tour businesses, consult their families, community members, friends, industry professionals, and experts in a given field as sources of knowledge and skills. This enables the learner to build confidence and engage with a variety of people. Students also begin to develop admiration for different professions in the industrial sector. As students interact with the world, it fosters perspective and personal development that is valuable inside and outside of school, in society, and eventually in employment.

A group of students has an in-depth discussion in their classroom.
“Communicate and Collaborate” is an Essential Habit that Quest Forward Learning students practice.

4. Students become self-reliant.

Self-reliant people drive a semi-industrialized economy. They can own the development and agenda with the primary objective of satisfying the basic needs of all the people in the country. The Quest Forward Learning methodology of a personalized learning environment where learners practice essential habits—like expressing curiosity, managing themselves, solving problems, communicating and collaborating, and learning from setbacks—enables students to play their future roles as valuable producers, consumers, citizens, leaders, decision-makers, and parents.

A student smiles brightly over his shoulder, while holding a tablet displaying the Quest app in his secondary school classroom in Tanzania.
With support from mentors, Quest Forward students learn self-management and problem solving.

5. Students gain an entrepreneurial spirit.

The economy needs people who can thrive amidst political, social, cultural, economic, and technological development challenges at national and international levels. Quest Forward Learning encourages learning through the development of skills and demonstration of competency, not through the memorization of facts. It also empowers student agency. Learners are not passive in a Quest Forward classroom, but active participants. Learners develop self-awareness and learn to be independent, critical thinkers, which will be essential to the job market when they graduate. 

Quest Forward Learning widens students’ perceptions of adult life. It helps them to build and sustain their careers through meaningful skills. The methodology lays a solid foundation for secondary schools to build a more innovative and semi-industrialized economy, so that we can ultimately close the skills gap.