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Evaluation database

Evaluation report

2001 Caribbean: Assessments of the Health and Family Life Education Training



Executive summary

Background

The Health and Family Life Education Project (HFLE) was established in 1994 in response from the Governments of the Caribbean to help protect young people in the region from the various social pressures within and outside the region. UNICEF was designated to facilitate and co-ordinate this strategy with the assistance and expertise of various interested agencies, including PAHO/WHO, UNDCP, UNFPA, UNECLAC, UNDP,UNESCO, 3 Faculties of Education of the University of the West Indies (UWI) and the CARICOM Secretariat. One of the emerging issues was the use and abuse of illegal drugs by young people. Hence, UNDCP, one of the supporting agencies of the HFLE project, supported a project aimed at reducing the demand for drugs among the youth through exposure to the formal and non-formal sector of the HFLE programme. This project was aimed at using a strategy that was to increase teacher training with methods that are participatory and child-centered, and which pay attention to the emotional needs of the child.

Purpose / Objective

A review of the effectiveness of the approach, as required by UNDCP and the other interested agencies, was carried out to assess the progress made over the last three years. Therefore, the objectives of this evaluation are to:
- review the progress and achievements of the HFLE Facilitator Training in the nine (9) participating countries during the period 1998-2000 in the development of a pool of trained facilitators and country teams capable of undertaking facilitator training at national level
- assess the potential of the training as an effective strategy to contribute towards reducing the demand for drugs
- identify the areas of strengths and weaknesses in the training activities
- make recommendations for future training activities

Methodology

Interviews with: the coordinators of the programme, the Chief Medical Officers in the participating countries, the Chief Education Officers or their representatives from the various islands, and the CARICOM Secretariat. Questionnaires were given to some of the implementers of the programme in the 9 participating countries and also to the Trainees who attended the training sessions organized by FMU. Visits were made to five of the participating countries, in order to meet with and discuss the programme with those involved.

Key Findings and Conclusions

The CARICOM Secretariat, although initially involved in the HFLE project, did not continue to show the required level of commitment. It appears, however, that the Programme Manager with responsibility for Health will ensure that the project is discussed at the meeting of CMOs. The role of CARICOM in the implementation of the project appears to have been minimal.

National consultations were held in most of the territories. The development of a draft policy on HFLE has been completed in some territories; however, to-date, only the Government of Grenada has ratified its country's HFLE policy.

Some countries showed greater commitment than others in the development and implementation of HFLE training programmes. The level of interest of some HFLE Coordinators should be commended. Although they are burdened with other projects, they find time to work on the development of the project.

Most of the Teacher Training Colleges offer HFLE as a subject. In some cases, they are mandatory. However, the participatory teaching methodologies are not always being utilized. In cases where student teachers are being exposed to the new methodology, it is not possible for them to be monitored when they move into the school system because of limited human resources.

The need for this type of integrated skills-based programme is being underscored as there is the perception that the problems being caused by the demand for drugs and drug use are escalating.

Preference for the use of the holistic approach as against the direct approach in dealing with social issues (such as substance abuse) was overwhelming. The view was that the direct vertical approach - where persons were given the necessary information about substance abuse - has not proven to be successful in reducing the demand for drugs. In fact, the drug 'pushers' are now targeting children by giving them free samples of the drugs. Such activity takes place within close proximity of the schools. It will, therefore, take years before any change in behaviour brought about by the use of the holistic approach can be measured.

While the multiplier effect, on which the project is based, has not fully met expectations, with the number of persons who actually received training being less then the amount indicated on the project proposal, indications are that as Phase 4 of the project comes on stream, this will be realised. With the exception of a few countries, training seems to be ad hoc and not as a consequence of a structured national plan to increase teacher capacity to teach HFLE and drug education in the classroom.

Training is on-going in countries; however, the reporting process is weak and there is limited information on the nature and extent of national level training. This is an area that countries have recognised as weak and on which attention is being placed for a more structured approach to in-service training.

The FMU organized training activities that, although considered beneficial by some persons, were not found to be effective by others. The background and ability of participants seemed to have had a direct impact on their ability to relate to the training. This would account for the variance in feedback as to the effectiveness of the training.

The quality of the accommodation as well as the allowances given during the Jamaica leg of the training was severely criticized.

Apparent financial constraints, which gave rise to the situation above, also affected the quality of the training that participants received. A greater presence of Consultants at these workshops was seen as being necessary.

Phase 4 would have benefited from greater support and monitoring of in-country training and the FMU needed to play a much greater role in this regard.

The intersectoral approach in the training of HFLE needed strengthening in the sessions. The Ministries of Health and Education seem to be more active in the development of the project in the various islands. The Ministry of Community Development is given little mention.

Despite the training received, some trainees do not feel competent enough to act as facilitators. They lack confidence, and need to hone and further develop the skills necessary.

Some teachers feel uncomfortable about teaching aspects of the HFLE curriculum, particularly those dealing with sexuality.

Recommendations

The CARICOM Secretariat needs to be more involved in the development of the HFLE project by ensuring that the project is discussed at Regional meetings, particularly those involving Prime Ministers, and Ministers of Education, Health and Community Development.

The HFLE policy documents need to be ratified by the Cabinet of Ministers of the various territories.

It might be effective to move forward with a two-phased approach for future training. First, the Regional Team should meet to reflect on and fine-tune training approaches, methodology and training Teams. In the second phase, at the country level, the country's representative would be assisted by a team of resource persons in developing detailed training designs for each session and training the appropriate persons. This would ensure that (a) the country's representative conducts the necessary training; and (b) there is standardisation of the training content.

While this project has made some impact, there is a continuing need to strengthen the capacity of teachers to teach HFLE, including effective drug education. Persons trained in the HFLE methodology should be utilized in the training of teachers during in-service training activities.

In order for the HFLE project to be effective, the various governments must show greater commitment by ensuring that HFLE Coordinators are given the assistance necessary. More people should be assigned to the project on a full-time basis to ensure that effective monitoring is done, particularly within the school system.

Baseline data on substance abuse should be collected in each participating territory, using a sample of students exposed to the HFLE project as well as those who are not exposed. A longitudinal study could then be undertaken for a period of at least 5 years to obtain the relevant data.

The HFLE training being conducted at the Teachers' Colleges should utilize the appropriate methodology. Student teachers must then be encouraged to utilize these approaches.

One resource person with the necessary training in, and knowledge of, HFLE should be attached to every school.

A website for disseminating HFLE issues should be established and maintained.

Each country should establish a functional country team or an HFLE coordinating committee.

The idea of dedicating one month in observance of HFLE should be adopted by all participating countries.

The media should be used more extensively in promoting HFLE. Radio and Television programmes should be produced highlighting aspects of HFLE.

Television programmes dealing with HFLE issues and targeted at the youth should be regularly produced and aired. These programmes could be in the form of sitcoms, documentaries, short skits, PSAs and talk shows. In order to minimize cost, the Government Information Service Units of participating countries could be involved in the production of these programmes. There could be a sharing and exchange of programmes ensuring that youth are aware of what is happening in other parts of the Region. This should be an exciting project where the youth would play a pivotal role in scripting and producing these programmes.



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Report information

Date:
2001

Region:
TACRO

Country:
Caribbean

Type:
Evaluation

Theme:
Young People

Partners:
PAHO/WHO, UNDCP, UNFPA, UNECLAC, UNDP, UNESCO, University of the West Indies (UWI), CARICOM Secretariat

PIDB:

Follow Up:

Language:
English

Sequence Number:
2001/004

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