Promoting Leadership In Student Government

21 April 2010

Leading By Example: AKA, Mombasa Student Representative Council works to Train local Children’s Councils

After spending her summer participating in a service internship with the Aga Khan Foundation project, Education for Marginalized Children in Kenya (EMACK), Sarrah Sheikh, an Aga Khan Academy, Mombasa Diploma 2 student, realized she wanted to promote leadership and peer representation in local primary schools.

Through her experience with EMACK, Sarrah traveled to a variety of public primary schools and discovered that often students were not being provided with many opportunities or tools for taking on leadership roles in their school communities. As a result, in conjunction with EMACK’s Children’s Council initiative, Sarrah created an Outreach Project that utilized the skills and experience of AKA, Mombasa’s long standing Student Representative Council (SRC), to offer peer to peer learning on leadership to nearby schools.
 

The SRC through their own experiences as students leaders created workshop sessions that they felt would be of benefit to students just beginning to take on leadership roles in Children’s Councils at the primary level. After much hard work, on Saturday, March 13th, 2010, the SRC visited Longo Primary School in Likoni, to deliver the first ever ‘Children’s Council Training Workshop’ in partnership with EMACK. 14 Longo students and two teachers participated in the workshop. The following is an account of that day from one of the SRC member’s, Amsal Lakhani:

The SRC carried out a workshop with the Longo Primary School Children’s Council on the function and purpose of a student leadership body, and how to run a successful Children’s Council. The sessions were a mixture of serious learning and fun outdoor activities. Any initial uneasiness in bringing these two diverse groups of students together was quickly washed away through a simple icebreaking name game, after which all the students as well as the teacher patrons of the Children’s Council, were at ease with each other.
 

SRC members conducted different sessions in pairs, which included: Exploring what a student leadership body is, Leadership, Communication, Time Management, and Council Structure. These topics were considered to be essential in preparing the students to be leaders within their council. In response to these sessions, Longo students were extremely attentive and cooperate.

To ensure that the workshop catered for Swahili and English speakers, SRC members translated topics and facilitated discussions in both languages so that the messages were clearly communicated. The process of formal learning was frequently punctuated by fun and physical activities, which were accompanied with useful learning messages.

One extremely important topic that was discussed was the structure of the Children’s Council, including the constitution and guidelines that will govern them in the future. This also included the goals and expectations they wanted to set for themselves to be accomplished in the short and long-term. The example of the AKA,Mombasa SRC’s constitution was provided, and they were asked to work with their patron to come up with their own constitution and goals.

While sessions were going on, members of the AKA,Mombasa SRC sat amongst the students and assisted them in any way possible, whether by explaining a difficult point to them, encouraging them to express their ideas or asking them questions which prodded them to think more about the given topic. This led to increased interaction between AKA,Mombasa and Longo students, and by the end of the day had created bonds of friendship between the relatively younger children from Longo and older students from AKA,Mombasa.

By the end of all the sessions, the teachers from Longo Primary School were very grateful for the time of the AKA,Mombasa SRC, and graciously invited them back for more sessions with the Longo students. This project was also a wonderful learning experience for all members of the SRC, and they would be more than glad to return to Longo Primary School in the not-too-distant future to follow up on the progress made with their wonderful Children’s Council.