Following the success of the first regional meeting, a second regional meeting held July 26-27, 2023, in Lusaka, Zambia provided a crucial platform for sharing research findings and garnering insights from CAMFED’s GPE KIX-supported innovative project. Importantly, it marked a significant evolution in the civil society-government partnership which is exploring scaling a youth-led social support and mentorship program, the Learner Guide program, to improve quality of education for marginalized girls. Like the first regional meeting held in November 2022, it gathered a large number (69) of key technical advisory officials and Ministry decision-makers from Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe, together with front line education implementers and CAMFED staff. Many of the participants had worked together over the past 1.5 years on the project’s scaling committees in their respective countries.
Government representatives showed increasing ownership of the partnership process, with senior officials from the Zambian Ministry of Education taking the lead to co-facilitate the two-day meeting. They led participants through an agenda which included reviews of the project’s research findings and breakout group discussions.
Emerging from the project’s qualitative research was evidence of significant alignment between the youth-led program and national policy objectives. Stakeholders identified entry points and opportunities for scaling the program while also highlighting country-specific practical considerations and issues for sustainable integration. Participants stated that a key factor for the success of the research process was the effective engagement of scaling committee members and involvement of all stakeholders in the education sector.
Cohesive teamwork was modeled by the Tanzanian contingent. Together, these researchers, government officials, teachers and CAMFED staff prepared a presentation of results from a quantitative study conducted at schools in Tanzania. The report compared outcomes of life skills programming delivered using two different approaches: Learner Guide-led delivery in CAMFED partner schools and Guidance and Counseling teacher-led delivery in non-CAMFED partner schools. The research found differences including greater time spent for life skills delivery and increased wellbeing outcomes for learners at schools with Learner Guide-led delivery.
The regional forum proved to be a valued platform for multi-country sharing. It has laid foundations for Learner Guide program scaling exploration in new countries. One technical partner contributed transferable insights about how resources for scaling innovations might be unlocked by measuring innovation outcomes using specific disbursement linked indicators (DLIs) which are tied to budgeted government priorities. Another government participant remarked that the meeting had increased his awareness of how governments can work together more closely and effectively with civil society partners to develop, for example, GPE partnership compacts and education sector development plans.