Author: Gwendolyn Heaner and Mandy Littlewood
Year: 2014
Full Citation: Heaner, G. & Littlewood, M. (2014). Programme partnership agreement 2 (PPA2) /Building skills 4 life (BS4L) programme: Year 3 formative review (Y3FR). (Global report). London, England: Plan UK
Target Population(s): , ,
Rigor: Low
Outcome(s): Increased Attendance, Increased Enrollment, Increased Retention, Reduced Fear of SRGBV Generally, Reduced incidence / acceptance of bullying, Reduced incidence / acceptance of CP, Reduced incidence / acceptance of student sexual abuse, Reduced incidence / acceptance of teacher sexual abuse
Intervention(s): Community Advocacy, Reporting and accountability mechanisms in school, School Codes of Conduct, Student Advocacy / Sensitization, Student Clubs and Committees
Associated Resource Tool(s):
Overview: The focus of PPA2 is for adolescent girls to enrol and complete quality lower secondary education; it is a specific area of work within the broader BS4Li Programme. PPA2 targets 9 countries, working though their country offices and local implementing partners: Cambodia, El Salvador, Kenya, Malawi, Mali, Pakistan, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, and Zimbabwe (all countries except El Salvador and Sierra Leone, where the programme is completed, are in the extension phase of PPA2). It takes a life-cycle approach in considering the challenges girls face in adolescence in specific contexts, and aiming to achieve the following specific outcomes:
  • More positive attitudes among girls, boys, parents / caregivers, communities, traditional leaders and governments that enable adolescent girls to realise their rights, particularly to basic education.
  • Reduced financial barriers to education for adolescent girls.
  • Increased quality and relevance of basic education provision for girls.
  • Reduced violence against girls in schools.
  • Reduced dropout and absenteeism rates due to early pregnancy, early marriage or other sexual and reproductive health issues.
  • Increased government accountability and responsiveness to the needs and rights of adolescent girls at community, local and national level in relation to education and SRHR services and protection against violence.
  • Increased policy commitment and funding from key donors and international agencies to empower adolescent girls.
The Y3FR involves three key elements:
  1. Full final project end formative review for Sierra Leone and El Salvador
  2. Progress review and programmatic recommendations for seven extension countries.
  3. Baseline data collection and analyses of baseline situation for three new indicators that will be used to measure progress in the extension phase (April 2014 – March 2016). (p. 1)
Methodology: Both qualitative and quantitative research was conducted in two sampled communities per country.  
Findings: "The quantitative and qualitative data largely agree. Overall, girls are still behind boys in all the key indicators: fewer girls than boys are enrolled at Year 9, retention is lower among girls, girls drop out when they are younger, pass rates are lower among girls, and they more frequently miss school. Overall, though, gender parity has improved since baseline; also, girls’ attendance in school is closer to that of boys than it was at baseline, though attendance has deteriorated for both boys and girls between baseline and Y3FR for all students.
  • Retention / Dropout: There are a number of factors that continue to inhibit girls’ access to education. Lack of school fees is in the top five reasons across all countries except Pakistan. Other reasons include lack of interest in pursuing education (commonly mentioned in Mali, Zimbabwe and Rwanda), and pregnancy or marriage (more commonly mentioned for girls not enrolled/no longer enrolled in Pakistan, Mali and Kenya, while marriage was an important reason for not being in school for both sexes in Malawi). The reason most fundamentally relevant to the persisting gender disparities observed is negative attitudes to girls’ education.
  • Attitudes and practice: Across all countries, nearly all participants believed that education was conceptually important, and understood the long-term benefits of education as ensuring that the child would have a better future for him/herself, and also his/her family. However, there are enduring attitudes that could reduce enrolment and retention of both males and females through secondary level – in other words, a significant gap between attitudes and practice.
    • Overall, the biggest limitation to improved attitudes occurs when sensitisations are superficial, dealing only with ‘rights’, and do not provide strong and understandable examples to help people rationalise why it is important to send girls in particular to school. In general, we find that the most effective interventions in consolidating ideas around the importance of girls’ education, is to provide tangible examples of what the specific benefits are to doing so. The critical component to lessening the gap between attitude and practise is that people are providing with living examples (role models) of how educating girls can bring about specific positive results among people with whom they identify.
  • Financial barriers / Scholarships: Financial barriers remain the most widely reported obstacle to girls’ continuing education. Scholarships lead to increased girls’ enrolment even when negative attitudes endure; there has been good success but some limitations including a) the support was not targeted to the right people; b) there are other non-financial barriers keeping girls out of school; c) the direct support is not sufficient enough. Also there is evident resentment from males that girls get the majority of the support.
  • Teacher training: Overall, there are still evident limitations to the extent to which they can do their job effectively, and in most cases, would benefit from more training (increased access), or in other cases, a different style of training or different subject matters covered. Teachers would also benefit from better responsiveness from Plan/partners when valid requests are made for additional help (either by providing the help, or explaining clearly why it is not possible, but that their requests have been heard). Though some teachers were not aware of any action plan, it appears as though when they were known about, action plans were a helpful guide to teachers, but were difficult to implement exactly as planned, and they felt there was limited responsiveness from Plan in adjusting difficult-to-reach milestones.
  • Gender sensitive pedagogy (GSP): In countries with perceived increased GSP, a) GSP training was more comprehensive and/or b) teachers were more receptive of the training when they felt that it was something that they needed to learn more about.
  • Additional educational activities: As a whole, we can say that the additional educational activities that are an important aspect of this global program have been largely useful and positive for those who have had a chance to benefit from them. The ‘additional educational activities’ were the biggest source of confidence across all participants. The speak-out clubs had overwhelmingly positive effects on students – in particular in terms of building their confidence, but also in terms of helping them learn new information, and articulate what they knew to others. Remedial classes were reported to be very effective in helping students improve grades. The only limitation is that not everyone had access to these after school activities, usually because parents needed children (usually females) to return home after school to do chores.
  • Safety in school: We also see that most participants perceive corporal punishment (CP) to be reducing in the last three years; but there are important country-level differences depending on whether the lessening occurrence can be attributed either to a) actual acceptance (by teachers who previously used it) that it is wrong / unsuitable punishment, or b) fear of getting in trouble for doing it, despite still believing it should be allowed. There does not seem to be any correlation in teacher trainings in this respect, as all received trainings on discipline. The relative improvements in each country for CP, serious abuse, and giving chores for punishment / exploitation, are varied across countries. In those with the most improvement, we see each of these components: a) establishing rules; b) making teachers and students aware of the rules; c) enforcing the rules; d) having a mechanism to complain to some ‘committee’, or delegated representative, in case these rules are not enforced.
    • It appears that even those who claim to not accept CP, may not totally agree with / understand why it is not acceptable. It appears that positive attitudes contribute to reduced CP incidence, but that reduced CP incidence does not necessarily require improved attitudes. There is also evidence that further training is necessary on alternative discipline. Enforcing child rights may reduce incidence of CP, but only when this enforcement is effectively paired with teaching skills in alternative discipline strategies (and clear evidence of why these are actually better in terms of discipline), will it be sustainable and fully accepted (and not resented) by teachers, parents and adolescents.
  • Safety to / from school: Given that child protection committees were established in all countries except Cambodia and El Salvador (which established School Coexistence Committees), there does not seem to be a correlation between Child Protection Committees (CPCs) and the incidence of CP in schools. However, overall it seems as though establishment of strong community-based CPCs, particularly those who are involved in all sensitization, monitoring and punishment – is a necessary component to reduce violence to/from schools.
  • Accountability and participation: There are reported improvements on accountability and participation in some regards – particularly in terms of students and parents having a mechanism in which to make complaints / voice their concerns, but there are clear limitations in terms of the extent to which teachers/school staff reliably and/or constructively act on those complaints. The complaints from parents and adolescents about school accountability dealt with a) it was not clear whom to report to in the first place, and b) nothing happens after complaints are made; beyond that, we also see examples of when there were negative repercussions for reporting. When students work though school monitors, however, or get their parents to back them up, they have more success in having their complaints acknowledged. Accountability is strengthened only when there are multiple levels of reporting, such that many people, including student representatives, are involved in the complaint process. There also appears to be correlation between students receiving Plan/partner leadership training and increased involvement in decision-making at the school-level.
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR): Acceptance of teaching ‘everything’ in SRHR depends upon whether or not a person believes that it will result in fewer diseases, and fewer pregnancies, and that whatever helps to achieve this outcome is considered to be positive. One main complaint about SRHR, despite it being broadly accepted, was that classes were held with boys and girls together. We still see evident limitations in terms of whether or not adolescents can access the resources that they now know about, either because they are embarrassed, cannot afford to, or do not know about them.
  • Gender relations at community and household level: While there is some evidence of changing attitudes on gender relations in the nine communities, there are still enduring negative attitudes. Barriers to girls’ education – and overall empowerment – persist in causing disparities in access and attainment. (pp. i-iii).

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