Friday, April 25, 2008

Summary of Wilson's 2 consulting weeks in Zanzibar

On the 6th of April Wilson and I flew from Nairobi to Zanzibar. Wilson is one of the cheif Nairobits Trainers, and also a consultant... He was hired to help me with some of the most difficult tasks of the whole Zanzibits setup: selecting the students, setting up a good petty cash accountancy and training the Administrator, Hashil. In short, making sure that local aspects of the operational side are under control.

Wilson stayed for 2 weeks, and here are some parts of his report.

Wilson's arrival

On Sunday 6th April 2008 I departed to ZanziBits (Zanzibar) with a set of assignments in mind. On my arrival the weather was cool but quite humid with lots of rains experienced later during my stay. The people of Zanzibar are hospitable and 98% are Muslim. One of my major tasks was to get acquainted with the place and get to know the people I will be working with, that is Mr. Aziz the consultant and Mr. Hashil the administrator. As we know time is ‘money’ and without proper planning a lot of time get wasted and can’t be recovered. The very first thing was to put in place a time table whereby everyone would be aware of what to do, when, where and who will be involved.

Life in Zanzibar is quite different from cities like Nairobi which are moving very fast with the global issues and standards. Correct me if I’m wrong somebody told me it’s rare to find a good quality electronic gadget in Zanzibar majority are clones. But one amazing thing about Zanzibar is that people are friendly and have lots of planned activities like most shops close as early as at 3pm some reopen again later in the day. Every day is like a holiday! Time is an issue with people in Zanzibar things are somehow slow compared to Nairobi. As a place it’s fun to have a holiday and relax and see the historical site and don’t miss to be at the beach with lots of activities.
The majority of the people in Zanzibar speak Kiswahili and a few speak great English and if you are one of the few you are respected. Anyway this were my experiences, make time one day and visit Zanzibar and see for yourself don’t miss to carry a camera.

Ok, back to business…

Zanzibits set up
It is amazing to see the great set up at ZanziBits, lets start with the colors from the walls to the floor the painter knew this was going to be a multimedia school. What about the machines? Nicely layout TFT machines with great speed (P4 and average 80 GB hard disk) all in one color again. AC’s, printers, network, power back up, Fans, furniture, stationary, staff, and Internet all are in place and the course is ready to kick off not forgetting the enthusiastic youths. To cut the long story short the set up is great and conducive for learning. There was a concern about power blackouts before but during my stay for 2 weeks we didn’t experience any problems. I like the idea of prepaying electricity which is used in Zanzibar you just need to purchase credit and load the codes and that’s it, just like crediting your phone.

The interviews went as planned we received around 70 or even more CVs for interviews. Time was a factor in selecting and interviewing the students so we had to short list and have a few interviewed because we could only take 12 students. The interview was scheduled for four days with 12 students coming in per day; a total of 48 students were expected. One amazing thing that happened is, in Zanzibar there are potential and wiling students who are ready to learn but opportunities like ZanziBits are rare or not existing at all.

On our second day of interview we had selected 11 brilliant students so we needed one day to get the lucky one student. Someone might ask, where do all other applicants go? Or what do we do with the information? The answer is that the school has only 12 computers for equivalent number of students. ZanziBits will communicate back to the group representative and ask them to tell the students that this is not a one time project, when the interviews will be due again they will be invited for interview provided they are 17 – 25 years old by then and hope is not lost.
Something to watch we received different types of CVs and letters with basic errors some where hand written which is not bad, some were nicely typed but one amazing thing is that we could get this nicely professional typed CV in English but during one to one interview the interviewee could not say a word in English, so don’t relay on CVs only but consider everything from motivation, English both written and spoken.

There was one common question that was asked by most interviewees and that is, after training where will they go? In Zanzibar there is potential with lots of youth who have an average understanding of English language even though Kiswahili is the widely spoken language. It’s so unfortunate that we had to select only twelve because of resources.

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