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 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.

 

Why English and Digital for Girls' Education?

The EDGE programme clearly aligns with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically:

  • Goal 5 which aims to ‘achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls’ 
  • Goal 4 highlighting the need to ‘ensure inclusive and quality education for all and promote lifelong learning’.

The programme aims to contribute to the achievement of these global goals by establishing a network of non-formal, community-based clubs for girls, which are effective in reducing barriers, developing the girls’ skills and increasing educational, social and economic opportunity. 

Project vision

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

The programme has the following objectives:

●     To provide adolescent girls with opportunities and resources to develop their English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues.

●     To facilitate creation of safe spaces for the girls to interact and learn in peer-led after-school clubs.

●      To identify and develop a cadre of Peer Group Leaders (PGLs) and build their leadership skills and confidence to facilitate English and digital sessions in these clubs.

●      To develop the capacity of a cohort of trainers to train and support PGLs.

●     To build trust within the communities and change the perception of the value of girls in society.

●     To align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals and the country’s development plans in digital literacy and English skills. 

Key activities

●     Centre Coordinator (CC) Training:  CCs receive four days of face to face training or a series of online webinars to orient them. The practise focuses on building their facilitation skills, making them aware of their crucial role and contribution to the programme's successful implementation.

●     Selection, online training and support for PGLs: PGLs receive nine hours of online training via video conferencing. The training enables them to facilitate EDGE clubs and develop the necessary digital skills effectively. CCs play a crucial role as an in the field facilitator who supports the online training delivery.

●    Online monitoring and evaluation (M&E): throughout the programme, crucial elements of M&E, such as club observations, administering questionnaires to club participants, conducting assessments, etc. are conducted either over the telephone or via video conferencing. These aspects are monitored and evaluated using quality assurance tools. The observations and feedback from all stakeholders are fed back into the project planning cycle.

During the pandemic, EDGE activities pivoted to leverage the online space as effectively as possible. This included adapting the existing EDGE content into bite sized activity cards to suit the online space. This also meant all activities including M&E was conducted online.

  • EDGE club members responded to activity cards that aimed to improve their confidence in using English, digital and social skills over 10 weeks.
  • PGLs and Centre Coordinators both received two rounds of orientation and training each.
  • PGLs received continuous support from British Council freelance consultants who oversaw club activities, monitored participation and mentored PGLs through 10 weeks.
  • Online M&E activities included English and digital test, interviews, surveys and weekly club reports from consultants. 

Impact

Between 2015 - 2018, the project in partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation and Naandi Foundation have reached out to:

  • 103 Centre Coordinators
  • 143 Peer Group Leaders (adolescent girls) facilitated 96 after-school community-based clubs
  • 2563 club participants (adolescent girls) in 16 states across India.

During 2020,in partnership with Digital Empowerment Foundation have reached out to:

  • 23 Centre Coordinators
  • 23 Peer Group Leaders (adolescent girls and young women)
  • 221 club participants (adolescent girls and young women) in six states across India

What our stakeholders say

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