Frequently Asked Questions
Taqaddam means ‘Moving Forward’ in Arabic. Taqaddam is an innovative youth development programme being delivered across eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). The programme is designed to equip young people with a wide set of enduring personal and professional strengths and skills that will enable them to lead successful and fulfilling lives.
Taqaddam is aimed at 15-16 year olds transitioning from school to the next stage of their lives. According to a host of scientific studies, adolescence is the perfect time for children to be exposed to experiences that will help them develop and reflect upon their emotional skills. These experiences will help their brains to develop in a way that allows a degree of control and feeling of emotional stability, which is invaluable socially. Although the programme is primarily designed for teenagers, people of all ages and nationalities can benefit from Taqaddam.
Today’s young people are living in an increasingly complex and challenging world. Globalisation and changing technology are bringing about significant changes in the workplace, where there is increased competition for work and a demand for higher levels of skills. This is having a profound effect on the fast-growing young population of the MENA region, where many young people are leaving education unprepared for this rapidly changing environment and facing the prospect of long-term unemployment. Over the past two decades, educators, employers and policy-makers have focused increasingly on the development of character strengths and soft skills as a way to prepare young people for success. A 2013 study found that employers in MENA value a positive attitude, soft skills, inter-personal skills in their recruits. However, the study also found that employers perceive new graduates as lacking confidence in their capabilities; in their ability to communicate effectively; to problem-solve; and to self-manage. Taqaddam employs techniques to develop these essential skills alongside fundamental personal strengths, envisaging a generation of socially and emotionally resilient young people who are equipped to enter the world of work with confidence.
- To provide young people with an opportunity to develop personal skills and capabilities that will enable them to successfully transition from school into the next stage of their lives.
- To engage with young people in ways that build their confidence and enable them to develop as effective and responsible citizens, and also as successful lifelong learners.
- To raise the aspirations of young people in order to stimulate and increase their motivation to embrace change.
Taqaddam is delivered as a blended learning programme. The offline components – two workshops, school classes and an end of programme challenge – combine with activity on the Taqaddam web platform.
Students participate on the programme, attending the workshops, completing missions and challenges and entering the final Make It Happen! challenge. Teachers support the students through the programme, facilitating weekly character strength discussions in their classes and monitoring the students as they progress. The British Council Country Teams support the teachers, ensuring that they understand the content and the delivery methods. Facilitators from the UK, deliver the student workshops and train the teachers and British Council teams.
After a student is selected they attend a large, interschool workshops delivered by a facilitator from the UK. These exciting and interactive workshops develop character strengths and soft skills. After the workshop the teachers will hold their first Taqaddam class at school, introducing the students to the online platform for the first time. The students take an initial strengths survey, building a picture of their ‘leading’ character strengths. Students go on to complete strength missions and skip challenges week by week, for five weeks, building up their life skills, personal profile and earning badges as they progress. At the end of the programme, students attend a final workshop, consolidating their learning from the course and preparing for the final Make It Happen! event. The Make It Happen! event is a showcase of students’ social action ideas, addressing an issue in their community.
Character strengths are the personality characteristics that make us authentic, unique and feel engaged with the world around us. Research by the University of Cambridge’s Institute of Wellbeing, Penn State, and other renowned academic institutions provides the basis for the character strengths framework which underpins Taqaddam. Participants explore five character strengths within the programme. These are spark, confidence, mettle, positive emotions and purpose. These strengths are the bedrock, the foundation of all human beings; the platform from which we can start to build and develop soft skills.
Soft skills are the personal qualities and attitudes that enable people to work well with others and make a positive contribution to society. They are specific, learned aptitudes, and they use a variety of the character strengths. The soft skills explored within the programme are creative innovator, team player, effective communicator, critical thinker, initiative taker and organised planner.
Seven countries across the MENA region are participating in Taqaddam’s second year. These countries are UAE, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, Oman and Lebanon.
In the pilot year, the programme reached over 1200 young people and over 60 teachers. In its’ second year, the programme will reach over 1800 young people and 100 teachers. The long term aim is for the programme to reach approximately 8000 people over the following three years.
The programme curriculum covers an eight to ten week period, from the first workshop, to the Make It Happen! challenge event and final focus group. This timing depends on each country and how they deliver the programme.
After the Taqaddam programme has been completed students will automatically a member of the alumni network. The alumni network offers access to work readiness resources, events and further training opportunities. Additionally, participants can continue accessing the site and complete outstanding strength missions and skill challenges.
People who aren’t participating on the programme can try Taqaddam out by registering on the Taqaddam platform, taking the strengths survey and completing missions and challenges. This route is called the Taqaddam Tasters route.