Towards a Better Future: Improving Educational and Health Outcomes for Young Girls in Southern AfricaSubmitted by aventh on February 5, 2010 - 3:00am
Launched in 2006 by the Centre for Development and Population Activities (CEDPA), Towards a Better Future: Improving Educational and Health Outcomes for Young Girls in Southern Africa is a project to
The Southern Africa Towards a Better Future programme is designed around CEDPA's youth development framework, the Better Life Options and Opportunities Model (BLOOM). The BLOOM approach is designed to build self-confidence and self-esteem in adolescents using a non-formal education curricula entitled Choose a Future! Issues and Options for Adolescent Girls, which has been used by CEDPA worldwide and adapted to the context of southern Africa.
In 2006, South African partners identified three areas as having an impact on girls' educational outcomes: teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, and substance abuse. CEDPA, in conjunction with the South African Girl Child Alliance, conducted workshops with South African partners and their stakeholders to build their capacity in these areas in order to improve delivery of their programmes for girls. Evaluation workshops were conducted with these partners in order to reflect on how they had used the information and materials from the workshops, exchange information on the challenges they encountered when facilitating sessions using the new materials, and discuss solutions to these challenges. Residential workshops were then held with partners and girls from their programmes. The purpose of these workshops was to provide partner staff with training on how to effectively facilitate sessions with young girls. In addition, the workshops were intended as a space that was conducive to the discussion of issues and topics that are important to the girls.
Following the initial activities in South Africa, a needs assessment was carried out in early 2007 to adapt the curriculum and programme to the southern African context. This included: assessing the results of the workshops in South Africa; conducting a desk review focusing on the educational trajectories for girls in these three countries beyond primary school; and exploring the social and reproductive health factors experienced by girls that are related to education outcomes. Focus groups with implementing partners in Lesotho and Swaziland provided additional information about problems girls encounter in these countries. Results of these activities shaped a 5-day curriculum adaptation workshop held in June 2007 with partners and technical experts.
The adapted curriculum contains 14 modules covering 114 hours and focuses on: setting goals and values; building communication skills; building healthy peer and family relationships; supporting community participation; and the topics of puberty, reproductive health, gender-based violence, and the environment. Ubuntu, a traditional African philosophy focusing on respect and compassion for others, has also been incorporated into the adaptation. CEDPA conducted the first round of facilitator training with partners prior to implementation. A total of 108 facilitators were trained, including peer educators, community health-care workers, and teachers, who lead girls in discussion groups and participatory activities.
The programme also includes outreach activities designed to build family and community support for girls' education. According to the organisers, it is implemented and designed hand-in-hand with local partners, building the capacity of communities to meet the educational challenge of their next generation of leaders.
Education, Girls, Gender.
According to CEDPA, of school-aged children estimated to be out of school, 53% (61.6 million) are girls. Primary school enrolment rates for girls in eastern and southern Africa are reported at 62%. However, in secondary schools, girls' participation plummets, with the enrolment rate at only 24%.
CEDPA says that as of 2008, a total of 528 girls had graduated from the Towards a Better Future programme. CEDPA conducted a baseline and endline survey of a sample of girls from three sites, and initial results were positive. Participants showed statistically significant gains in almost all of the attitudes and knowledge measured. Swazi girls in the programme rated their quality of communication with parents and other family members 34% higher at endline than at baseline, and their reproductive health knowledge improved by 20%.
CEDPA; South African Girl Child Alliance; Cape Flats and Soweto YMCAs; Student Christian Movement in Lesotho; and Manzini Youth Care.
CEDPA e-Newsletter from May 28 2009; and CEDPA website and Reaching Out to Young Girls in Southern Africa: Towards a Better Future [PDF] - both accessed on January 15 2010.