The Independent Commission for Aid Impact’s (ICAI) review, published yesterday, on ‘The effects of DFID’s cash transfer programmes on poverty and vulnerability’ gave an overall rating of green/amber. This means that achievements have been made in most areas, but more could be done to improve programme effectiveness.
One of the recommendations is that “…cash transfers may need to be combined with other interventions to improve results.”
The Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) is a holistic programme that combines cash transfers with other interventions, such as behavior change communications, grants to schools and teacher training. This comprehensive approach aims to tackle all of the barriers to girls’ education.
Many of our activities have complementary properties. For example, the Social and Behaviour Change Communication component, led by BBC Media Action, produces a radio programme titled ‘Our School’, which is broadcast weekly across South Sudan and tells real life stories in local languages. Our School covers a range of issues affecting girls education; examples include programmes that explore entrenched attitudes as well as social and cultural norms related to women and girls; those that highlights the benefits of girls staying in school and offer advice; and those that present different ways of solving practical challenges, such as how to spend Cash Transfer money, and how to budget for education. Some of these radio programmes can be found online, along with the script in English. To read them, click here.
BBC Media Action’s also conducts research to understand the role that radio and community discussion is having, including how it is improving knowledge and understanding of elements of the school system like the Cash Transfer component. While informing BBC Media Action activities, this research also informs and supports all other activities of the GESS programme. Knowledge, Evidence & Research (KER) of what works for Girls’ Education in South Sudan is a component of GESS aimed to generate knowledge about what works in general for girls’ education, and about programmatic causality and impact. It seeks to develop knowledge about the impact of project interventions, and make links from inputs to outcomes and impacts, as well as gathering broader information about what works in girls’ education.
BBC Media Action’s quantitative midline survey found that, when asked directly what they had learnt from Our School, listeners had learnt “a lot” or “a bit” about these issues including: budgeting for girls’ education (88%) and how girls receive cash transfers (89%)*.
Our school-based mentoring programme also complements the Cash Transfer activities. Mentoring sessions, led by GESS-trained teacher mentors and/or peer mentors, are a safe place for girls to openly discuss any ideas and concerns. Debate, role-plays and drama help the mentees practice new skills in situations they might encounter in real life. The below photo shows a peer mentor from Juba discussing how the Cash Transfer money should be used, encouraging girls to spend the money on scholastic materials, as well as how to best to discuss the cash with their families.
Our Quality Education component reinforces the holistic nature of GESS, offering practical support to schools, teachers and education managers. This output intends to improve the quality of education, to decrease drop-out and repetition rates and improve learning outcomes at primary school and secondary school levels. As well as boosting teaching and learning, GESS also supports incremental improvements in the school environment through ‘Capitation Grants’ – funds made available to all not-for-profit schools to help supplement running costs and improve the school infrastructure.
The holistic nature of GESS has ensured that the Programme is robust and resilient, which is paramount when operating in a fragile environment, such as South Sudan. The ICAI report found that mixed interventions achieve “results that continue after households have exited the programme (that) are much stronger than for pure cash transfers. Furthermore, the results have shown an ability to survive climate shocks.” Our multi-faceted approach and interlinked components will support the education sector in South Sudan, with results that will benefit generations to come, and help to build a strong and resilient education sector in the world’s newest country.
*Results from our Midline Review will be published soon. Watch this space.