2001 PAK: The Girl Child Shield Project: Assessment Report
Author: Croll, E.
The Girl Guide Shield Project was launched in its present form by the Pakistan Girl Guides Association (PGGA) and UNICEF in 1997, after several years of informal co-operation and following the development and testing of a pilot programme. The main beneficiaries of the project are girl guides between 11 and 16 years who are organised into companies attached to girls' schools and, in addition, it also benefits their schools, families and communities. The overall objective of the Project is to improve the status of girls and women in Pakistan by increasing the awareness of girl guides of the problems faced by girls in their community and society.
Purpose / Objective
Now that the first five years of project implementation are due to end in 2001, this assessment report has been commissioned by UNICEF to examine the match between objectives and achievements, to identify omissions and lessons learned and to suggest future directions that the project might take.
This assessment is based upon a study of documentary materials pertinent to the project, including periodic project reports, communication kits and other materials for participants; discussions with guides, guiders, headmistresses, teachers, family members and community leaders; and observations of guide activities observed while visiting nine project sites over a range of locations and circumstances in May 2001.
Categories of Interviews/Group Discussions: National Staff of PGGA, Lahore; National Girl Child Shield Project Co-ordinator, Islamabad; Provincial Girl Child Shield Project Staff, NWFP, Punjab and AJK; Local provincial project leaders and managers, NWFP, Punjab and AJK; Present Girl Child Shield Project participants; Girl Guide Companies; Family members of Girl Child Shield project participants; Community leaders of Project Sites; Teachers at School Project Sites; and Headmistresses at School Project Sites.
Key Findings and Conclusions
By 1998, a total of 10,000 guides had participated in the project and it is anticipated that by the end of 2001, the Project will have: (a) trained between 20,000-30,000 girls as role models on girl child issues, child rights, affirmative communication and team building, and (b) reached 20,000 families and 100,000 girl peers (one plus five), in addition to neighbouring families (one plus five), schools and communities. By May 2001, it was reckoned that the Project had involved 20,000 girls in more than 800 schools in lower and middle-income urban and rural communities, and had reached the targeted numbers of peers, families and communities.
The girls showed every indication of understanding the importance of health education and practices for their own survival and development, and that of their younger siblings, peers and families. The attitudes they expressed and new practices they described suggested that they had received these important health-education messages. The guides had also acquired new practical skills, which include the testing of salt for iodine content, rehydration procedures and the recognition of disease symptoms.
Several parents, teachers and community leaders reported on changes in household, school and community practices as a result of guide mobilisation. These included the use of soap and iodised salt, cleanliness of latrines and clearance of rubbish.
Many of the girls were aware of the importance of literacy and education for their own development and expressed a strong desire to continue with their own education as far as possible. Several girls gave examples of their influence in the education of siblings or domestic servants. In one school visited, guide opinion had provided a strong impetus towards the addition of a senior class in a local village school.
It was evident that effective communication skills were emphasised to encourage advocacy with peers, family and village or town communities. In discussions, guides responded with clarity and directness, and expressed their views with confidence. It was observed that girls had acquired collective experience of group activities and were conscious of their individual and collective role in imparting knowledge and advocating change.
In several school discussions, headmistresses and teachers reiterated the differences they observed between guides and non-guides. They thought these differences in responsiveness and confidence were due to the opportunities provided for guides to acquire participatory skills and practices.
Many community members could cite examples where guides had modified attitudes and behaviours of their peers and families to do with hygiene, education, health care and marriage practices. Community leaders could also cite examples where guide example or mobilisation had influenced a community practice or decision to do with the physical environment, hygiene or education. This is novel behaviour in a society where girls are commonly not allowed to meet in public spaces or enter the homes of neighbours.
There was documentation available on several community camps where senior guides visited, taught initiated and participated in selected projects to teach village women literacy, hygiene or health care, and practical skills such as embroidery. In one community visited, where such a camp had taken place a year previously, there was still evidence that senior guides had very effectively facilitated and fulfilled their roles as models encouraging and improving the health knowledge, literacy and skills of local girls and women who took great pride in recalling and sharing the results of their achievements. What made a vivid impression on the community, and they remembered most, was the manner in which the guides related to and taught community members of all ages.
The documentation of the rationales and progress in the development of the project and record of case studies of component activities are impeccable and reflect the high quality of management and of co-ordination for communication and project implementation within the PGGA. The PGGA has well-documented national and provincial schedules for the training of trainers and guiders to implement the Girl Child Shield Project.
The training modules and materials produced and disseminated incorporate both the key messages and activity-based methodologies of the Project and are themselves well-designed and participatory. As a result of basic, refresher and advanced training Projects, there is an expanding pool of master trainers and experienced guiders throughout the country although their numbers still remain a constraint on expanding the Project.
The content of the Project materials shows evidence of careful preparation, due consideration of content and experimentation in communication. The messages and methodologies developed were originally based on situation analyses, including surveys of the attitudes and needs of girls and children. The resultant communication kits and publicity materials for girls, headmistresses, parents, communities and the media were then pilot tested before widespread use.
The comprehensive and extensive mechanisms in place for monitoring consist of periodic visits by field staff/trainers, extensive self-reporting on activities and staff assessments and procedures, which are co-ordinated by an assessment committee. The monitoring of training standards and content at different levels is also undertaken by PGGA master trainers and UNICEF staff.
Monitoring indicators are both quantitative and qualitative. The former includes an emphasis on the numbers of guides achieving badges, guiders, facilitators and girls, schools and families reached. More qualitatively, modifications in the form of improvements or corrective decisions have been taken as a result of monitoring and evaluation by trainers and guiders or on the basis of feedback from the guides themselves.
Several of the girls and their parents reported recent occasions when the girls had persuaded their families to immunize infants, improve latrine hygiene, introduce iodised salt and extend the schooling of girls.
It is recommended that either the number of training Project should be expanded or that the special training sessions unique to the Girl Guide Shield Project be integrated into the very general training Projects of the regular guiding movement.
It is recommended that the present plans to extend the Project to younger girls in junior guides and to older girls in senior guides be expedited in order that these age groups receive some of the same benefits as the current target group of 11 to 16 years. At the present time, senior guides new to the movement miss out on this valuable Project.
It is recommended that any practical constraints on the supply of materials and training for this Project be overcome and that there be a costing of future supplies of materials and training to gauge the funds needed for the continuation of this creative, cost-effective and sustainable Project.
It is recommended that funds be acquired to facilitate the translation of communication kits for guide badges and training materials into the English language to encourage the replicability of this project by other girl guide movements where it is culturally appropriate.
Within schools, it is recommended that, in addition to the present informal ways in which guides and their companies have communicated some of the Project messages to their peers, more formal mechanisms based on school assemblies and classroom meetings be instituted to extend the messages and methodologies to fellow pupils.
It is recommended that, where appropriate, the PGGA should lobby for the incorporation of key messages and activities of the Girl Child Shield Project into the national education curriculum at different levels and in various forms.
It is recommended that further ways be found to extend the benefits of the Project to girls who have never entered or who drop out of school and whose needs are paramount in any Project of outreach.
Full report in PDF
PDF files require Acrobat Reader.