Introduction to Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) and Project Safar-e-Hifazat
The project titled Safar-e-Hifazat, was implemented by Nur Center for Research and Policy (NCRP) under the aegis of Nur Foundation, with the aim to deliver a Life Skills Based Education Curriculum to enable and empower adolescents in government schools, both boys and girls, to make informed choices about their health and well-being. Life Skills Based education contains vital information for adolescents in a conservative operating environment where young people are typically not provided with timely and accurate information regarding their physical and mental well-being. It includes topics ranging from self-esteem, values, effective communication, decision making, body protection and puberty among others. The LSBE curriculum also has a strong emphasis on exploring issues of gender, reproductive health and rights for slightly older students.
Schools provide an ideal space for administering LSBE curricula, as they not only provide access to large number of adolescent populations, but are also converging points which allow administrative decision makers, teachers, and the school community, including parents, to be sensitised to these topics. Safar-e-Hifazat was made possible via a funding partnership with U.K. based AmplifyChange (https://amplifychange.org), an organisation that provides grants to several Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) across the world, particularly those that advocate for improved policy and action on the most neglected issues in the field of Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR).
Project Safar-e-Hifazat developed the capacity of Secondary School Teachers and Health Care Providers (HCP) to provide a comprehensive LSBE Curriculum in the peri-urban areas of Lahore, Pakistan. Lahore is Pakistan’s second largest city, the capital of the province of Punjab, and is home to a population of over 11 million people. Initially the purpose of Project Safar-e-Hifazat was to generate robust evidence via collecting data from intervention and control groups to determine the uptake of the curriculum by adolescents, and analyse how the LSBE curriculum influences the Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices (KAP) of Adolescents based on type of facilitator e.g. Teachers or Health Care Providers. Unfortunately, however, the COVID-19 pandemic affected project implementation due to closure of schools and countrywide lockdown. Thus, it was decided by the Project Team, in consultation with AmplifyChange, that the results of the midline survey (which was in process before schools closed in mid/late March 2020), would be used to gauge the effectiveness and potential scalability of the curriculum. As the sample size for the midline was also compromised due to premature school closures, it was decided that effectiveness by type of facilitator could not be evaluated in a rigorous manner, but some impactful findings would be included on the basis of qualitative data obtained from in-depth interviews with facilitators, and video testimonials from students and parents. Furthermore, gender-stratified impact on adolescents would also be highlighted for all topics for which the size of the data set permitted it.
About the Safar-e-Hifazat Curriculum
Project Safar-e-Hifazat was implemented, with some modifications, to a tried and tested LSBE curriculum developed by ‘Aahung’- a Non-Profit Organisation working on LBSE in the province of Sindh since 1995. Those modifications include incorporation of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) and participatory approaches. Prior to starting the field activities, Aahung was engaged by Nur Center for Research and Policy to conduct a pre-intervention training of the Facilitators (both Teachers as well as Health Care Providers). Staff and management of Nur Foundation also participated in this training, which was highly beneficial to build their capacity in the domain of LSBE, and also enabled them to resolve facilitator queries during the life cycle of the project, as well as conduct effective monitoring and evaluation. Aahung used a ‘Training of Trainer’ (ToT) method, implemented by their seasoned LSBE trainers in a 4-day workshop at Nur Foundation. Through this training, all the potential facilitators, as well as NCRP staff, were engaged on how to effectively implement the Aahung curriculum to a class of adolescents in a culturally, religiously and ethically sensitive manner, while maintaining gender sensitivity.
Based on the curriculum provided by Aahung, NCRP developed lesson plans, worksheets, activities and some impactful reinforcement videos for adolescents that were used to supplement the lectures and keep them interactive. Through a rigorous process, the curriculum was vetted by technical experts across relevant departments at NCRP. The project team developed a committee of specialists that reviewed the curriculum, and provided guidance for ICT integration and participatory activities to be added in an effective manner. The project team strived to create a balance in the committee members, so that their cumulative experience would consist of academic knowledge, teaching experience, medical understanding, and awareness of the target communities that were selected for the intervention. Details are provided in the Chapter on Materials and Methods.
Project Objectives and Key Outputs
Objectives of the proposed project, as per revised methodology due to the pandemic, were as follows:
- Enhance the knowledge and skills of Secondary School Teachers and HCPs for provision of improved LSBE through use of ICT and participatory approaches.
- Examine the impact of the LSBE curriculum on adolescents’ Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices within an intervention group, and compare the findings with a control group with similar characteristics. Supplement this quantitative data with voices from the field- based on in-depth interviews with facilitators, and video testimonials with a sample of students and parents.
- Documentation of the LSBE training process for development of recommendations for scaling up of the initiative in the province.