Empowering girls to change their world

Launched in 2012 in partnership with BRAC Bangladesh, as English and ICT for Adolescent Girls, the project has now further developed into English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE), which aims to improve the life prospects of adolescent girls in socio-economically marginalised communities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal.

The programme focuses on enhancing participants’ English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues. As a result, they will be better able to make more informed and independent life choices, as is their right, in order to contribute more fully to the family, the economy and society. In addition, the programme aims to improve the leadership skills of a smaller group of peer leaders drawn from the same communities of adolescent girls.

Our vision is that adolescent girls from marginalised communities can make more informed and independent life choices, as is their right, in order to contribute fully to the family, the economy and society.

In 2015-16, the British Council partnered with local organisations Naandi Foundation and Digital Empowerment Foundation to deliver a project to adolescent girls from marginalised communities in after-school, non-formal, safe spaces in their communities. Participants developed English and digital skills using self-access learning resources installed on laptops. Speaking and writing skills were strengthened by the use of an accompanying workbook. In addition, a series of flashcards and games developed grammar, functional language and vocabulary skills.

The EDGE club learners may meet twice a week, or more frequently, for a session that lasts between one and three hours. In each club there are two PGLs responsible for organising learning activities and working with the club members. As PGLs are drawn from the same group as the club members they share the same background and can better empathise and relate to the issues participants face. Depending on partner requirements and existing set-up, there may also be facilitators supporting PGLs as mentors or coaches.

Club activities are interactive and focus mainly on developing English communication and digital skills along with the development of core skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and citizenship. Social issues are brought to the fore through the memorable videos following the story of Meena developed by UNICEF and sharing stories of women from across the world. In addition, club content includes songs with actions, language games, practice of dialogues in pairs and groups, stories, video clips, and tasks involving the creation of documents and presentations using electronic devices. The programme through its three phases, aim to provide club participants with more than three hundred hours of content over a one year period.

EDGE - using LearnEnglish for Schools digital content
EDGE learners using the LearnEnglish for Schools self-access resource ©

British Council

The interesting part of the EDGE methodology is that it encourages peer to peer learning with the English and digital skills. It encourages learning by bonding. The learnings from this EDGE programme will enable the girls to be change agents and change leaders for their families, for their communities and the larger society. Dr Syed Kazi, Deputy Director, Digital Empowerment Foundation

Traditional schools accessed by the not-so-privileged do not have the wherewithal to help children learn digital skills and English. Girls are even more deprived of a chance to learn these essential 21st century skills. EDGE gives them a chance to learn these in a fun and non-threatening way and places them strongly and confidently on a path to finding dignity and self-reliance. Rohini Mukherjee, Chief Policy Officer, Naandi Foundation