Fostering a global community of youth data ambassadors

A unique collaboration with the School of Data convened dozens of global data experts with young data champions for a “Summer Camp” at the dLab.

Watch a highlight video of the 2017 Summer Camp with Data Zetu and School of Data.

Engaging young leaders as pioneers of the “data revolution” is one way to amplify the use of data in communities across Tanzania. To do this, we’re learning how important it is to develop confidence among youth in working with data, as well as connecting them with networks of data practitioners who exemplify the value of using information to make evidence-based decisions.

Building data skills and networks happens to be at the core of the School of Data, a global network of data literacy practitioners dedicated to advancing data literacy in civil society. Each year, the School of Data convenes its dozens of data experts and trainers from around the world at a “summer camp”, giving them an opportunity to share insights, learn from each other’s successes and failures, and develop a shared vision for amplifying the data revolution moving forward.

This year Data Zetu collaborated with School of Data to host their summer camp in Tanzania, at the dLab. More importantly, we were excited to host dozens of Mandela Washington Fellows at the Summer Camp. The resulting event planted the seed for a community of “youth data ambassadors” from across Tanzania and beyond — young leaders who can champion the meaningful use of data in their communities, organizations, and governments.

School of Data Fellows and trainers, Mandela Washington Fellows, and other DCLI data champions share a photo shoot at the Summer Camp.

As Katelyn Rogers, the director of School of Data, explains, the goal was “to raise awareness and to make sure that the YALI fellows understood that it was possible — even if they don’t have a background in math and they’re not a computer programmer — to start asking questions, looking for data, and starting to do some basic analysis with the skills they already have.”

Omar Bakari, the Data Zetu program director, explains that this was an important step to “empower Tanzanians to drive the change that they want using the data.”

While these are ambitious goals, we believe an important initial foundation was laid. Vicensia Fuko, a MWF Fellow, participant in the DCLI Practicum, and member of the Tanzania Media Foundation, reflected: “Being a media development expert, I’ve learnt more simpler tools for journalists to use, but more importantly, it has helped me get into a network of expats from different parts of the world.”

Being a media development expert, I’ve learnt more simpler tools for journalists to use, but more importantly, it has helped me get into a network of expats from different parts of the world.

This Summer Camp was only the kernel of a community of youth data ambassadors. Many of the participants, who included young participants in the DLI innovation challenge, will meet again in December at the dLab, to begin defining a roadmap of follow-on activities, driven by youth, to amplify the data revolution in Tanzania. As Omar Bakari, the Data Zetu program director, explains, this was an important step to “empower Tanzanians to drive the change that they want using the data.”

Katelyn Rogers, Director of School of Data, says it’s possible for everyday people to start asking questions, looking for data, and starting to do some basic analysis with the skills they already have.

This activity built on the DCLI Practicums, which saw four Mandela Washington Fellows — young leaders from Tanzania and Cote d’Ivoire — work in Washington DC with three data-driven organizations. Learn more about the Practicum here.