Teaching and learning for life skills development: Insights from Rwanda’s 12+ programme for adolescent girls: Special Issue Youth & Adolescent Skills Development: Preparing young people for diverse global challenges
Rachel Marcus and
Development Policy Review, 2022, vol. 40, issue S2
Motivation The development of life skills has been increasingly recognized in formal and non‐formal education programmes as critical to enabling young people to flourish in personal relationships, the workplace, and wider society. Recent competency‐based curricular reform reflects a growing consensus on the importance of developing a combination of socioemotional, cognitive, and practical skills to overcome contemporary social, environmental, and economic global challenges. Yet there is limited research examining the pedagogical practices that lead to the effective development of such skills. Purpose This article seeks to fill that gap by drawing on lessons from Rwanda’s 12+ programme, a non‐formal life skills programme for adolescent girls. Examining potential links between pedagogical practices and the programme’s impacts on adolescent girl participants, it enquires into lessons that can be learnt for both formal and non‐formal schooling. Methods and approach Insights from focus groups and interviews with 12+ graduates (ages 15–17) and mentors were triangulated with analysis of project documentation including teaching and learning materials. Findings Five insights are highlighted: structured teaching and learning materials and scaffolded support for mentors; the use of dialogic teaching; experiential learning opportunities; the importance of safe spaces and trusting relationships; and the engagement of mentors as role models. These combined ingredients of effective life skills programming were perceived to have led to the development of adolescent girls' skills, knowledge, and attitudes, including confidence, voice and agency, financial literacy, self‐efficacy, and self‐care. Policy implications Teacher education and ongoing professional development should focus on strengthening teachers' capacity to use learner‐centred, interactive methods, and to foster positive social relationships with and among learners. Sharing of materials and approaches between non‐formal programmes and the formal education system should be encouraged.
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