This is the report of the Global Evaluation of Life Skills Education commissioned by the UNICEF Evaluation Office. The aims of the evaluation were to consider life skills education (LSE) initiatives and assess them for relevance, coverage, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability and to consider UNICEF’s role and additionality in support of them, recognizing that UNICEF has been an advocate for life skills education and a source of support in many countries. The evaluation was also tasked with identifying lessons and making recommendations for UNICEF and partners.
The evaluation has the specific purpose of:
• examining where countries are with respect to accepted knowledge about components of successful LSE programmes at formal and non-formal levels;
• assessing whether LSE programmes are implemented from a rights-based perspective, and make additional effort to include the most at risk and/or vulnerable young people; and
• examining the added value of UNICEF investments in LSE programmes in terms of their relevance, coverage, efficiency, effectiveness and sustainability.
The evaluation was guided by an evaluation framework prepared in consultation with UNICEF during inception, which informed the four phases of this evaluation:
• International literature review of key concepts, trends and issues around LSE;
• Review of country documentation on LSE from 40 UNICEF Country Offices;
• Country case studies in Armenia, Barbados, Jordan, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique and Myanmar; and
• A Delphi survey on findings and ways forward among UNICEF Country Office staff, UNICEF national partners and other professionals involved in LSE.
Findings and Conclusions:
Evaluation findings were validated using the Delphi survey approach. The approach uses responses to earlier surveys to form more detailed questioning in subsequent surveys, iterating towards more detailed conclusions. The Delphi survey in this study was used as a tool to illicit responses and reactions on emerging findings and recommendations from a small number of practitioners and experts in LSE, rather than provide in-depth analysis of the complexities of findings.
The survey was sent to 70 UNICEF COs (those contacted for the document review) and other experts in or practitioners of LSE (including other United Nations organizations, academics, INGOs, NGOs and Ministries of Education). Round 1 received 21 responses and Round 2 received 19 responses. The majority of the respondents were from personnel of UNICEF COs. Questions were closed, and kept deliberately short and targeted. This document summarizes the responses to the both rounds. Note that, as the survey received a small response, it was not used as a finding in itself but to inform the discussion on issues and recommendations.
The evaluation has found positive impact of LSE on individual students and on students’ interactions in groups. There is evidence, including first-hand evidence from children, teachers and parents, that LSE has had a positive impact on children’s self-esteem, self-awareness and self-confidence. The attribution of national-level outcomes such as health, well-being and social cohesion is difficult, but there is anecdotal evidence from countries that have integrated LSE into curricula which suggests that LSE has contributed to increasing children’s knowledge about health issues and helped them to identify risky situations and be able to respond in ways that mitigate the risks.
LSE provides a space in which to build the knowledge and develop the skills that are most pertinent to children’s lives, as well as empower them to make positive life decisions. In most cases, it is the only channel available to do so and is of particular importance when children have no other way to access honest and comprehensive information, for example, about SRH. LSE has increased understanding of the importance of children’s psychosocial development and how it can be nurtured appropriately at different ages. LSE is, at its best, child-centred by design and contributes to the children’s rights agenda.
LSE must develop within the education agenda to exploit these opportunities, but needs support to optimize and sustain the gains made so far. To this end, the evaluation puts forward recommendations under four themes as presented in the next section.
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