Leave No Girl Behind: Evaluation of EAGER in Sierra Leone

EAGER  (Every  Adolescent  Girl  Empowered  and  Resilient)  is  a  4-year  education  and  empowerment  project  designed  for  out-of-school  (OOS)  adolescent  girls  ages  13-19 (13-17 Cohort 1, 2019-2021, and 13-19 Cohort 2, 2022)  who  have  missed  out  on  formal  learning  opportunities   Through  a  consortium  of  four  partners  (the  International  Rescue  Committee, Concern Worldwide, Restless Development, and BBC Media Action) operating in 10 districts of Sierra Leone, EAGER staff and community-based volunteers work together to  deliver  functional  Literacy,  Numeracy,  Financial  Literacy,  and  Life  Skills  sessions  for  girls.  Girls attend this Learning Programme for 30 weeks in female-only Safe Spaces and Learning Centres.

All   sessions   are   delivered   by   volunteer   Mentors   and   Facilitators who were recruited from the girls’ communities and trained to lead sessions and provide ongoing support to girls. Female Mentors are the first line of contact and support for girls and are responsible for building a relationship of trust with them as they lead the Life Skills sessions.   Facilitators lead functional Literacy, Numeracy, and Financial Literacy sessions for girls  They are expected to encourage a growth mindset in girls and shift the disempowering narrative that OOS adolescent girls are not capable of learning  Both Mentors and Facilitators are coached and encouraged to be allies  and  advocates  for  girls  in  the  community.

By the end of the Learning Programme, every girl will have completed an Empowerment Plan in which she set her own learning,  household,  community,  and  financial  goals   After  graduating  from  EAGER,  this  plan  will  guide  her  through  a  Transition  phase,  where  she  will  use  the  different  skills  she  learned  to  work  toward  her  goals   EAGER  graduates  receive  a  conditional  cash  grant  to  pursue  their  financial  goal  and  practice  the  skills  they  learned  in  their  Financial  Literacy  sessions

To strengthen the support systems around girls, EAGER teams lead structured Community Dialogues with girls’ caregivers and with influential community member. Participants are encouraged to wrap up each dialogue by identifying concrete actions they can take to address the problems girls are facing, and agreed plans are documented for accountability. To   build   support   for   girls   across   the   wider   population, EAGER produces weekly girl-centred radio programmes and broadcasts them on national and local radio stations.

Through a cycle of two successive cohorts of girls, EAGER has worked directly with 28,000 OOS adolescent girls across Sierra  Leone   In  line  with  the  vision  of  the  Girls’  Education  Challenge  (GEC)  Leave  No  Girl  Behind  (LNGB)  approach,  the  project  set  out  to  reach  some  of  the  most  marginalised  adolescent girls in Sierra Leone  This has meant working in remote areas where literacy levels are generally lower, as the probability of completing primary education is 56% for rural children, compared to 89% for urban children.

The  EAGER  Baseline  Evaluation  confirmed  that  45%  of  the  girls  enrolled  had  never  attended  school,  and  45%  had  dropped  out  early  without  learning  functional  reading  and  writing   Many  were  already  married  (44%)  and/or  already  had the responsibilities of caring for their own children (58%).  Heavy  chore  burdens  were  noted  to  isolate  girls  from  their  peers,  and  access  to  information,  resources,  services,  and  opportunities was limited by literacy and financial constraints as well as the gender norms that limit girls’ self-determination in  their  homes  and  communities.

The project was designed to address these multiple barriers to participation and learning, and to create accessible opportunities   and   supportive   spaces   for   girls   to   build   practical and empowering skills.  These  skills  were  tailored  to the girls’ context and daily lives so they could be practiced and  used  to  create  positive  changes  for  themselves,  their  families,  and  communities   Following  a  socio-ecological  model,  the  project  aims  to  empower  OOS  adolescent  girls  on  a  personal  level  while  strengthening  the  support  systems  around  them  through  increased  awareness  and  opportunities  for  collective  action.

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.