This year was Asante Africa’s 3rd year of participation in the Comparative and International Education Society summit, which focused on “Re-Mapping Global Education: South-North Dialogue” to raise awareness of “voices, actors and knowledge producers that have historically been marginalized in educational research and institutions.”
Taking the stage for Asante Africa, and presenting concrete results from our Girls’ Advancement Program was Patriciah Muigai (Kenya Programs Manager), supported by Kanan Puntambekar (Director of Monitoring & Research). What follows is an excerpt of our conversation with them.
Q) Describe the experience of participating at 2018′ CIES. What does it mean for Asante Africa to be a part of this conference?
CIES emanated the atmosphere of global support, friendly engagement, intellectual and organizational growth. The conference is about comparative perspectives, reflections, learnings and cutting edge innovations that will shape the future of education. For us it means that our model is working and can be replicated in similar contexts in different parts of the world.
Q) What innovative ideas/programs are coming out of CIES this year? What new things did you learn?
Participants presented a lot of ideas, big and small. Some of the key ones are:
- Contextualizing ‘life skills initiatives’, using different approaches depending on age, culture and national policies. There is an urgent need to integrate these initiatives into the school curriculum. The key elements of ‘life skills initiatives’ should be transformational
- Partnering with private sector to provide space for apprenticeship, credit and business training. Case in point Room to Read with Credit Suisse
- Training on life skills for teachers is critical for the success of any program
- Designing a strong M&E framework is necessary to measure impact. To measure long — term impact of a program, alumni survey protocol is necessary
- Exposure to STEM fields is a significant catalyst for developing scholastic and vocational interest in the field among girls
Q) How did we contribute to the conversation around education and girls advancement?
Presenting in the “Evidence and Results: It Transforms and Pays — Entrepreneurial and Life Skills Inclusion in Girls’ Programming” panel along with Teach A Man To Fish, we contributed successfully to the conversation of including concrete financial literacy & entrepreneurial training as part of the training. This would equip the girls to better manage their menstrual needs, and provide them an opportunity to improve their confidence, and apply their leadership skills. Inclusion and life skills is becoming integral to several Girls empowerment focused programs.
Q) What were the key results you shared at the panel, for the Girls Advancement Program?
- Introduced our interactive impact dashboard to present the outputs and outcomes
- Knowledge acquisition dashboard which summarizes the baseline — endline survey data for girls & boys in key areas of interest — Health, social, financial skills & boy inclusion — showing improvements in all these areas post training for case of recent Weyerhaeuser funded project
- Performance dashboard which summarizes the improved performance of the students, their classrooms’ and schools’ in areas of improved attendance, reduced pregnancies, Improved Academic performance, over 80% Transition rates
- Type and extent of the income generation and savings activities being conducted as part of GAP projects, with specific focus on the school business competition challenge in KE.
Q) What message would you give to our community after this experience
CIES is a benchmarking platform, and coming back from the conference we feel we on the right track as an organization, and our holistic approach is working!
We are working closely with schools, communities and students to have a model that is based closely on their needs and requirements. We are focused on keeping girls in school and help them transition from one academic level to the next.
Including boys, parents, teachers, community leaders as advocates and stakeholders, we are improving life skills, health and financial skills of adolescent girls.
The modules we are including in our programs are inline with the thinking of other organizations. Moving forward, we need to build better tools to assess the impact of life skills training — both in areas of knowledge acquisition and application, and advocate at local and international levels to create a positive environment for girls.
Q) How do you think Asante Africa stood out in the community or what made us or our programs/approach different from others?
One of the key components of our curriculum is Boy/Male inclusion. Our programs are:
- Encouraging boys to be allies for girls, which forms an inclusive peer support network
- Building a new generation of community-based allies to challenge the traditional thinking and practices
- Equipping male teachers with knowledge to teach menstrual hygiene with comfort, breaking down the taboo around periods
The School Enterprise Challenge in partnership with Teach a Man to Fish also elicited a lot of interest.
Q) Any pressing issues that were revealed, which we need to focus on?
Yes. We identified areas that will be our next steps.
- Rethink exit strategy for Asante scholars by connecting to mentors and resources
- Invest in life skills training for champion teachers
- Conduct a tracer survey for GAP alumni for the past 5 years
- Have an intensive 4 -5 months training program for LEI graduates
Q) After listening to other members of the community, do you think we are all working together towards a common vision? What is it?
Yes. Different approaches, but a common outcome.
- Scaling up life skills interventions to support more girls in gettingt an education
- Measuring the impact of life skills program outcomes
- Implementing evidence based strategies to improve education for adolescent girls(safe spaces, financial autonomy, peer/parents support)
Q) Can we expect future collaborations with other organizations we networked with?
Yes, definitely. To expand our programs, we will look to actively seek out partnerships with organizations specializing in content /curriculum development and assessment tools, and using our strength as strong implementers on the ground in rural areas of East Africa.
Q) What was the response of people who attended our panel?
Participants were impressed by the boy inclusion and changed perceptions around menstruation. We supported our presentation with multiple cases. A case study of Iladoru primary where boys used their savings to buy sanitary pads for the girls was impressive. Others wanted to know whether we are pushing for life skills integration with the Ministry of Education, since in Kenya, the government is implementing competence based curriculum that incorporates life skills.
Q) What were the key takeaways from each panel you attended?
Session 1: Economic Empowerment and Girls: Theory, Cultural Context, and Program Design Across 6 Countries
- Financial education makes sense when it is delivered in the context of a life skills program that helps girls develop critical skill competencies, motivating, educating, and empowering girls
- Financial education should start early
- Model program to fit micro contexts
Session 2: A Robust Approach to Collaborative Learning: Integrating Progress Monitoring, Impact Measurement, and Qualitative Insights by Engaging Stakeholders Across South and North
- MasterCard Scholars Program has an exit strategy to prepare graduates for the next phase in life by connecting to networks and resources
- Master Card Scholars Program works through partners like Africa Careers Network to enhance transition experience of the scholars
- Ashesi University and Africa Leadership Academy have a robust tracking mechanism for students and alumni.
Session 3: Building 21st Century Competencies for Girls
- Girl specific curriculum that is geared towards SDG 5 include: Identity & Leadership, Menstrual Health & Hygiene, Financial Literacy, STEM for Girls and Fighting Violence Finding Voice.
Session 4: The Effectiveness of Social and Financial Literacy for Youth: A Global Analysis
- Strengthen teachers training for effective life skills interventions
- Work on integrating gender and agriculture into school curriculum
- Engage private sector in skill mapping and business training
- Design age appropriate programs
Session 5: Round Table Session
ICT4D Practice Track VI: Robotics, Augmented Reality, Learning Interest and, STEM
- The session presented the results of implementation of RoboClub activities that are a part of Novateca. Novateca aims to transform public libraries that are equipped with LEGO robots into community hubs. This helps schools in supporting quality teaching in technology, and encouraging them to explore their programming skills.
- There is a need to ignite girls’ interest in STEM
Session 6: Contextualizing and Integrating Soft/Life Skills Positive Youth Development(PYD): Implementation and Measurement in Low –and Middle — Income Countries (LMICs)
- Need to design life skills measurement tools
- Integrated life skills in technical training institutes necessary
Case study of Programa Para o Futuro (PPF) in Mozambique
- Experiential learning; real world problems that promote new experiences, are interesting, and contextually relevant, are challenging but possible and paired with reflection.
- Address skills in combination; foundational skills addressed first: self-awareness, self-esteem, empathy, teamwork.
- Strong relationships: professional mentors, project facilitators, parents and caregivers and peers.