Leave No Girl Behind: Evaluation of Teach and Educate Adolescent girls with Community Help (TEACH) project

Teach and Educate Adolescent Girls with Community Help (TEACH), was a 4-year project which targeted 29,000 highly marginalized and out-of-school (OOS) girls aged 10 to 19 years in five deprived districts namely Chaghi, Nushki, Pishin, Killa Abdullah and Kharan, in Balochistan province, Pakistan. The project offered two age-appropriate intervention streams; LEARN stream which aimed at improving learning outcomes through an accelerated learning program (ALP)  and enabling the transition to formal or non-formal education for girls aged 10-14 years, and the EARN stream which was an employment-oriented/skills-based approach that aimed at impacting older girls (15-19 years) with market-relevant skills, and life skills, hence, enabling their transition into employment/self-employment.

We adopted a quasi-experimental pre-post, longitudinal, mixed methods research design to conduct studies that involved following 2024 girls aged 10–19 years to identify the changes in their learning and transition outcomes and compare it with the results observed among an in-school sample. The studies aimed at answering the following research questions:

  1. Learning: What are the outcomes in the learning (literacy, numeracy, life skills, and financial literacy) of out of schoolgirls who participate in TEACH, and to what degree do the project activities help them catch up with their in-school counterparts in Balochistan? 
  2. Transition: How the interventions affected girls’ transition to formal education and/or safe and fairly paid self/employment?
  3. Intersectionality: How do the effects of TEACH on girls’ learning and transition outcomes vary for different subgroups of girls, specifically, girls with disabilities; young mothers or pregnant; married early; from the poorest households; single-parent households and girls whose home language is different from the language of instruction?
  4. Stakeholders/operational environment: What are the variety of experiences of different stakeholders with the intervention, and what are their perceptions of the different components of the intervention? 

Research Studies

To answer the above research questions - learning, transition, intersectionality, and stakeholders/operational environment - we conducted various research studies and evaluations. These include:

  1. TEACH Program Evaluation

Using a cluster-based multistage sampling methodology, we obtained a sample of the targeted girls. We tracked them over time, comparing their learning (literacy, numeracy, life skills, financial literacy & SEL) & transition outcomes both at the baseline & end line. Additionally, we established benchmarks at baseline by collecting data on literacy and numeracy outcomes from a sample of 250 girls aged 10-14 years who were in formal school (in grades 1 through 5). The cluster-based multistage sampling approach enabled the inclusion of girls from the highly marginalized sub-groups such as girls with disabilities, married, pregnant, orphaned, and girls whose home language differs from the language of instruction.

At baseline, 63% of the girls had never been to school, while the remaining 37% of girls dropped out of school, thereby indicating that the TEACH project had enrolled the highly educationally marginalized girls. Furthermore, 15% of the enrolled girls had a disability, and 19% of these girls were engaged in income-generating activities. At baseline, we identified different barriers to girls’ education and grouped them as cultural, economic, and physical/service delivery barriers. We also identified a lack of vocational centers and poor chances of employability, dropping out from schools, early marriages of girls, and the lack of parents’ and girls’ interest in the continuation of education as some of the key transition barriers.

At midline, there were observed improvements in the enrolled girls’ literacy, numeracy, SEL, & financial literacy. Compared to the girls’ baseline scores, we noted a 45.49% increase in their literacy scores, a 35.83% increase in their numeracy scores, a 54.18% increase in their financial literacy scores, and a 47% increase in their SEL results. 

The end-line evaluation findings indicated statistically significant improvements in these girls’ literacy and numeracy skills except among orphaned girls, those with disabilities, and those engaged in income-generating activities. About 85.8% of the girls had shown an increase in their SEL scores, with a better performance observed among girls who were married, Pashto speakers, and those aged 15-19 years. The TEACH project successfully transitioned 49.7% of the girls in the LEARN stream into formal education, whereas 746 girls in the EARN stream successfully transitioned to employment.

  1. Tracer Studies

We also conducted a mixed method First Tracer study and a follow-up Tracer study among the girls we had enrolled in the TEACH EARN component to assess the effectiveness and impact of TEACH’s project business skills training on self-employment, income generation outcomes, and girls/women empowerment. The girls who completed the TEACH training felt ‘moderately empowered’ and reported that the training toolkits and the business grants provided were very effective in enhancing their skills, improving their efficiency, and increasing their clientage & income. The tracer studies also demonstrated that adolescent girls were better off self-employed than working on salary and wages, with 95% and 71% (first and follow-up studies respectively) of the girls in the TEACH Earn program successfully transitioning into self-employment and earning 50% and 93% higher income (first and follow-up studies respectively), than what they would have earned if they were employed.

  1. **Alternate Education Delivery Platforms for Hard-to-Reach Areas of Balochistan  **

During the Covid-19 lockdown period, educational activities for the TEACH project were equally affected, hence there was a need for alternate methods of supporting learning for the targeted girls. We designed remote learning programs (using radio lessons, while the public sector initiated an educational PTV program) to complement the ongoing face-to-face learning in the home-based centers. To better understand the effectiveness of radio-based learning programs designed to reach out-of-school girls living in hard-to-reach areas of Balochistan, we conducteda mixed-method study with 392 girls enrolled in the TEACH program. The study findings indicated that 60% of the girls agreed that radio lessons increased their learning skills (reading, listening, and comprehension), knowledge, and abilities. Seven in every 10 girls showed their satisfaction with the communication skills, experience, and empathy of the radio lesson broadcaster. The radio lessons were noted to be also effective in increasing the clarity of concepts learned through face-to-face learning among the girls attending the Home-based centers. Among the various modes of delivery of radio lessons (storytelling, songs, short plays, dialogue, question/answers), the girls preferred activity-based learning, followed by storytelling. The least preferred mode was the radio lectures. When radio lesson delivery modes were compared in terms of radio broadcasts and lessons delivered through WhatsApp, more than 70% of girls indicated that WhatsApp was a better medium as they were able to refer back to lessons multiple times for better clarity. The girls recommended availing the radio lessons in bilingual (Urdu and local language) for better understanding at home and ensuring they had a mentor (listening buddy at home) who would explain the lessons’ content for better clarity.

  1. Role of Public Awareness in Girls’ Education

The IRC conducted a mixed-method study to evaluate the success of various campaign strategies

and activities to increase public awareness of the importance of girls’ education in TEACH’s target districts of Balochistan. The study findings indicated that the public awareness campaign strategies utilized successfully created an enabling environment that boosted girls’ enrollment. At the awareness-raising level, 92% of people were aware of the key messages about girls’ education, and 40% of people became actively engaged as a result of meetings with the village support group and tea/coffee gatherings - for the male community members. Additionally, 85% and 73% of the people reported changing their behavior and social norms respectively in relation to early marriages and girls’ education. About 3 in every 10 people - both male and female - also reported attending community meetings to press governmental decision-makers to act in their communities best interests, particularly in relation to girls’ education. We also found that conventional engagement techniques such as Men ‘engaging men’ for awareness and using ‘locally educated girls as role models for improving girls’ education’ were generally superior to digital methods in the study areas. 

  1. Gender Transformations with Livelihood Interventions of TEACH Project

The IRC also conducted a mixed-method study aimed at examining gender transformative changes among adolescent girls through the implementation of multicomponent interventions in the TEACH project. In this study, the target population was 2406 adolescent girls aged 15 - 19 years equipped with income savings & generation skills (including income savings training, income generation training, and seed business grants) on targeted trades through vocational training to support them in transitioning to self-employment or employment. The study findings were in alignment with other evidence in the low-and-middle-income countries that multi-component programs which combine education and community-based livelihood programs including livelihood training, soft skills, grants, and social interaction appear to be promising in addressing roadblocks in gender transformation. Subsequently, leading to improved longer-term life chances for adolescent girls such as self-reliance, income generation, and influencing individual and collective agency of women, girls, men, and boys. The TEACH program played an essential role in influencing changes in the ingrained gender dynamics both at the agency (individual or collective capacities)and relational (intrahousehold and beyond), by advancing gender-responsive community engagement, establishing 122 community-based vocational training centers, providing Seed Grants, Trade Specific Toolkits, and Production Centers, and promoting localization through recruitment and capacity building of 827 female instructors within the targeted communities.

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