Expert Feedback Question 1: Experts shared, “This is not necessarily new (IRI has been used for decades), but, in an age of new and networked technology and innovation, using the "old" tech of radio - because it is shown to be effective - is refreshing. And combining this old tech necessarily with community engagement shows War Child's commitment to doing this right.”
War Child Canada: Thank you for your feedback and comments! You’re correct - IRI has been used as a teaching methodology since the 1970s, however IRI projects often use radio-based learning to complement existing formal education models. In this context, radio broadcasts run within formal classroom in an effort to shift the dynamic from the traditional rote style learning to a more active and engaging method. By taking IRI out of the classroom, this innovative project will improve the accessibility of education by extending it into the communities of those most vulnerable and hard to reach – out-of-school girls in conflict-affected populations.
Expert Feedback Question 3: Experts shared, “War Child has a robust organizational presence and approach, as well as a long history of doing excellent work in emergencies. However, not enough information has been provided as to the sustainability of the funding model. This may form, for example, one component of a larger War Child program that has long-term funding.”
War Child Canada: Thank you for this valuable feedback. We have taken this into consideration and elaborated under the question “How is your organization considering sustainable growth in order to continue making an impact over time?” We are happy to answer any other questions you may have.
Expert Feedback Question 4: Experts shared, “This Idea has been specifically designed to address issues relating to girls education in the relevant contexts. They have anticipated many of the security and cultural issues that girls face to access and achieve education. While it can be argued that providing education to a girl exposes her to more risks (on the way to physical location, from family and leaders who oppose it, etc.), it's abundantly clear that her and her family's future is brighter when she's educated.”
War Child Canada: We completely agree that both girls’ and their families’ futures benefit from her education. The “Do No Harm” approach was directly incorporated in the design of this innovation and specifically focuses on ensuring inclusion related to protection measures, mediation of ethnic tensions, and gender equality, especially around girls’ access to education.
Expert Feedback Question 6: What outstanding questions do you have for this team? Experts shared, “Your Idea solved the accreditation question, since the girls are being acknowledged for achievement by the national education ministry, but how similar is the curriculum to what children receive in schools? Is the content designed in conjunction with the MoE and does it cover all subjects? Is the content all in French? Is the program available to out-of-school boys too? For children on the move, is it relatively easy for a girl to either join another IRI program in her new place or to enter directly into a school, if available? What associated costs are there for the families (supplies, time spent by family members to cover for or accompany girls, etc.)?
War Child Canada: Thanks for the great questions! This approach uses the DRC’s national curriculum that children follow in formal school, but adapts it in two distinct ways: first, it is modified to suit an accelerating learning model, meaning two grade levels are condensed into one to help get children caught up on their schooling faster. It is then developed into radio-based lessons, which are subsequently recorded and broadcast across communities. It covers all core subjects, including math, geography, history, science, technology, English, and civics. As this is also an accelerated learning program (two grades combined into one), it does not follow the regular school schedule, which teaches just one grade at a time. The content is all in French. While the project primarily targets girls, boys are able to join in the classes as well. Based on feedback we have received from experts at OpenIdeo and community members, moving forward we will actively engage boys in all lessons as well.
As lessons are broadcast across radio, students are able to study at any location, so if they move from one community to another they can easily pick their studies back up. When students graduate the IRI program, they receive a transcript that allows them to re-enter the formal school system at the next grade level.
It's great to see the unique angle T4R is taking when looking at girls' education in refugee settings. We also see that many models exist, but the struggle often lies in ensuring ease of access/reducing barriers to access. Thanks for sharing!
Happy to be here and share more about our radio-based education pilot!
War Child Canada engaged communities through individual surveys and focus groups, ensuring that women, girls, boys and men participated in the community selection process. The criteria used to select communities included: total population (disaggregated by age and gender) to determine size of eligible target group (girls aged 12-16 years); school drop-out rates; proximity of community to the nearest secondary school; availability of community space that could be used for the listening groups; radio station coverage of community in question, and; general security situation and threats. The assessment covered the southern and northern axes of the city of Uvira namely; Kabimba , Katongo , Kalungwe, Kigongo, Avenue Neighborhood Kalundu (border of Kalungwe ), Kiliba, Kala, Kahororo and Hongero Kiromoni. The assessment also found that communities were willing to contribute community spaces to the project, such as churches and community centres, which were found to be a 15-25 minute walk from residential areas where the girls live. This stands in stark contrast to some cases where the walk to school is 7km. Population data was based on estimates provided by community leaders, given the low availability of census information for these remote areas.
The first lesson learned was that getting communities to donate space for students to learn was integral to garnering community buy-in for the program and the innovative educational approach. Securing this commitment from communities early on increased community participation and ownership of the project. Further, throughout the pilot, War Child Canada created Community Education Committees consisting of engaged community members (such as parents, school principals, and community leaders) that provided ongoing classroom support, community sensitization on girls’ right to education, and regular monitoring of classes. While parents are excited at the opportunity for their girls to enroll in the program, War Child Canada is aware that, without ongoing outreach, there is a risk that parents could remove their girls from the classes and force them in to early marriages. During the scale-up, it will be essential to keep communities involved throughout the project cycle to ensure sustainability.
A second lesson learned was that the quality of the radio broadcast corresponded directly with students’ learning outcomes. For instance, War Child Canada’s midterm evaluation revealed that students at one of the centers were not performing as well as their peers at other centers on tests. This particular center had experienced disrupted radio signals due to the center’s location. During the second half of the pilot, War Child Canada staff were able to consistently provide a USB with the recorded lessons to all centers as back-up in case there were signal issues on the radio. The final exam showed overall consistency in student performance across all centers. During this next stage, War Child Canada will review the initial radio-station assessment to ensure the project is accessing the highest quality radio broadcast possible and develop tools that would allow each center to troubleshoot and continue learning in case of signal disruption.
We welcome any further questions or comments you may have! Thank you for your consideration @OpenIDEO.