Empowering girls to change their world
The English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) programme aims to improve adolescent girls’ life prospects in socio-economically marginalised communities in Bangladesh, India and Nepal. Based on the success of the ‘English and IT for Adolescents’ (EITA) project that began in partnership with BRAC (Building Resources Across Communities) in Bangladesh in 2012, the project was introduced in 2012 in India as ‘English and Digital for Girls’ Education’.
Working in partnership with the Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF), the EDGE programme in India, focuses on enhancing participants’ English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues. 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.
It aims to achieve this through after-school, non-formal, safe spaces in their communities. Participants develop English and digital skills using self-access learning resources that could be installed on a range of digital devices including laptops. Club activities are interactive and focus mainly on developing English communication and digital skills along with the development of key 21st-century skills such as critical thinking, problem solving and citizenship. Social issues are brought to the fore through the 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.
Due to the impact of the Covid pandemic, we implemented an online model of the EDGE programme with Digital Empowerment Foundation (DEF) centres from September 2020 to March 2021. As the participants could not meet in person, the team set up safe online spaces with over 200 girls and young women from marginalised communities in Andhra Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Karnataka, Telangana, Haryana, Maharashtra. Both the Peer Group Leaders (PGL) and club members reported becoming more confident of their English and Digital skills. PGLs also reported developing confidence in their leadership skills, specifically in motivating and encouraging others, giving feedback and helping the club members. They also found this programme important in terms of filling the learning gap during the pandemic.