The remainder of the workshop was given over to a discussion of subject matter, teaching materials and strategies for integration of population education into programmes for out-of-school rural youth. The workshop agenda, and discussion handouts are attached as Annexes 3 and 4, respectively.
The participants reviewed the following ten topics which had been suggested for consideration in designing a population education programme for out-of-school rural youth:
- Population and factors which provoke changes in population
- Human growth and development
- The family and family size,
- The relationship between population and agriculture
- The relationship between population and the environment
- The relationship between population and employment/income
- The relationship between population and nutrition
- The relationship between population and health
- The relationship between population and development
- Responsible parenthood
The workshop participants confirmed the importance of all ten topics and ranked them in the following order of importance:
|1.||The relationship between population and development|
|" "||The relationship between population and employment/income|
|4.||Human growth and development|
|5.||The relationship between population and agriculture|
|6.||Population and factors which provoke changes in population|
|" "||The relationship between population and health|
|8.||The family and family size|
|9.||The relationship between population and the environment|
|" "||The relationship between population and nutrition|
The participants then discussed each of the ten subject matter topics in turn.
The relationship between population and development
The participants emphasized the need for rural youth to plan for the future and to take population issues (family size as well as overall village or community population) into account in this planning process.
One participant suggested that this topic be discussed with rural youth by introducing a series of questions, i.e. How were things when you were young? Were you well fed? How many cup measures of rice did it take to feed your family? How much did it cost per cup measure? What about today? What is the change in the relationship between income and the cost of food?
Based on these questions, the discusssion could be expanded to the actual future plans for the members of the youth group. The members could be asked how they plan to make a living, how they will ensure adequate food, housing, clothing, education, etc. for their children. Ths would lead to discussions of planning of family size and the implications of rapid population growth on future possibilities. The participants noted that planning did not necessarily mean limiting family size but rather calculating the size of the family that could be adequately supported.
The participants observed that successful community members could be invited to discuss how they had planned their lives.
One participant drew an analogy between the need for spacing of crops and the need for planning in development. He said that plants which are over-crowded and not tended would be unhealthy, as would be people in a situation of uncontrolled population growth.
There was consensus among the participants that although the relationship between population and development also has implications at national levels, it must be approached at the personal level to be relevant to rural youth. The participants urged that the issues be kept simple and locally-oriented at the beginning, and eventually that national development concepts be introduced. To this end, one participant suggested that the title of the topic be changed to "The relationship between population and personal development."
The relationship between population and employment/income
The participants identified problems in finding adequate employment in the rural areas as one of the primary causes of rural-to-urban migration. They noted that there was a lack of technical inputs for farmers and also that agricultural experts seemed to be reluctant to spend enough time in the rural areas, especially those which are more remote.
The participants stressed the importance of starting agricultural production groups among rural youth.
One of the participants suggested utilizing rural-to-urban migrants who have returned to the rural areas as trainers. These returnees, the participants agreed, would be in an excellent position to explain the situation in the urban centres and to point out the difficulties which would be likely to face unskilled, untrained rural youth who are unprepared for life and work in the city. The participants were of the opinion that returnees would be respected as coming from the village but with additional experience; rather than failures they could be utilized as teacher/trainers.
Other participants urged that income-generating activities be linked to functional literacy programmes.
One woman participant noted that several income-generating schemes for rural young women were being developed (cassava processing, soap making, etc.) and suggested that a population education message could be incorporated.
Other participants suggested that the relatonship between population and employment/income could be taught by comparing the income in high and low population density areas. They suggested discussion of questions such as: Does higher income lead to larger families? Do larger families in rural areas have more opportunity to increase earning levels?
The participants identified responsible parenthood as an important topic but one that would present difficulties in communication. First of all, the relationships between parents and children are narrowly defined by traditional values. Children and youth are expected to listen to their elders without question and to follow their example. In addition, the participation of youth in secret societies is widespread and these societies serve to perpetuate traditional family values. Youth are under significant pressure to marry young, have children and raise them in the traditional manner.
Participants suggested that concepts of responsible parenthood must continue to come through traditional channels, but that they could be effectively reinforced through population education activities at the youth group level.
One of the participants also noted that the wide variation of education levls in rural areas would further complicate the inclusion of concepts relating to responsible parenthood. For example, it was felt that rural youth who had never been to school would have different values than youth who had been to school and then dropped out. In another example, it was suggested that a young woman who was. in school could argue for delayed marriage and pregnancy but one who was out of school would be expected to marry at a very young age. Nonetheless, there was general agreement on the basic contents of the topic and the need to include them in a population education programme for rural youth.
Human growth and development
The participants first discussed how young people currently get information on this topic and whether the information is, in fact, dependable. They felt that youth talk among themselves but that they often have no dependable source of. information. The participants suggested that the youth should be encouraged to continue to talk amongst themselves but that the youth group leaders should serve as facilitators .
One participant stressed that it was unlikely that the youth leaders themselves would be adequately prepared about the human reproductive cycle. He suggested that training would be needed in this area, both at pre-service and in-service levels.
Another participant noted that most youth groups and youth group leaders are male and that there might be difficulty in reaching female rural youth.
A participant who was involved with planned parenthood efforts in Sierra Leone described an activity designed to provide accurate information for group leaders. Commonly asked questions about human growth and development (and their answers) were being grouped into a question-and-answer format reference manual. The participant suggested that this manual might be provided as an annex to the population education leader's guide. The same participant noted that planned parenthood workers could be invited to meet with rural youth groups when the topic of human growth and development was being discussed.
The relationship between population and agriculture
The participants felt that agricultural issues would run through all of the population education contents. However, they agreed with the idea of including agriculture as a separate section in the leader's guide.
One participnt noted that currently there was not a shortage of agricultural land in Sierra Leone. However, the bulk of the land is privately owned and a prospective farmer must either buy or rent a plot of land if his family does not have enough for him. Therefore, the problem was seen to be as much an economic roadblock as one of natural resource availability.
Other participants pointed out the lack of tools and other basic agricultural inputs. Farmer's associations have been formed, but small-scale farmers and particularly those who do not own the land they farm have little access to needed supplies or to credit. Even landed farmers often have difficulty in obtaining agricultural credit unless they have influential guarantors.
The participants suggested that the topic of agricultural credit (both cash and kind) and its relationship to population pressure be included in this subject.
Population and factors which provoke changes in population
The participants agreed that the basic contents of this subject were an important part of a population education programme. They stressed the importance of keeping the discussion at a village or community level so that the numbers would be relevant to rural youth. Discussions of global or even national population changes would be difficult and seen as far-fetched.
The participants suggested that a topic called population structure, covering sex ratio and dependency ratio might be added to this subject.
Another participant suggested that the concept of life expectancy could be discussed as a factor affecting population change, in addition to births, deaths and migration.
The relationship between population and health
The participants saw the topic of health as closely related to that of nutrition. In fact, some suggested that although the two topics should be treated separately in the leader's guide, they might be discussed together with the youth groups.
One participant suggested that youth should be viewed as a re source and not as a potential problem. This, he said, would lead to greater concern for the general health of youth, particularly in the rural areas.
The participants suggested that the following issues be added to the basic contents:
- the issue and health implications of teenage pregnancy;
- the health-related issues associated with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies (eg. abortions, poor mother's health, etc.);
- high risk pregnancies (too early, too late, too often);
- the relationship of family size and the availability and cost of health care.
The relationship between population and nutrition
The participants agreed on the basic contents of this topic. They stressed the need for adequate pre-service and in-service training in order to prepare youth group leaders to teach this topic. Most participants felt that this topic was directly related to the one on health.
The value of breast-feeding infants was highlighed, both in terms of its nutritional benefits and the inherent child-spacing effects.
The family and family size
The participants acknowledged the importance of the concepts of family and family size but questioned whether they merited being considered as a separate topic. The participants felt that these concepts should be included in the leader's guide but that perhaps they should be integrated into other topics during the discussions with actual youth groups.
One participant suggested that the first aim/objective of this topic be amended to read:
- to help young people understand what a family unit is and that there are different types of families.
The relationship between population and the environment
The participants gave least priority to this topic. There was a general consensus with regard to the validity of the concepts but the participants felt that there was so little general consciousness about environmental issues that the topic would be extremely difficult to discuss effectively. Again, the participants stressed the need for adequate training in this area, if the topic were to be included in the prototype population education package.
The session on teaching materials began with a discussion of the probable education level of youth group memebers and their leaders. The participants felt that education levels would vary widely but that most of the youth group members would be illiterate or only barely literate at best.
The youth group leaders in the larger towns would be likely to be educated up to a level equivalent to 4th year of secondary school (form IV), but in the more remote areas, leaders might also be illiterate or semi-literate.
Based on these observations, the participants felt that all teaching materials would need to be highly illustrated with explanations in simple language. When asked about the advisability of producing materials in local languages, the participants argued strongly for the use of English. They felt that anyone who was literate would have been taught to communicate in English and those who were illiterate would have equal difficulty with English and Krio or other local languages.
The participants strongly supported the idea of a leader's guide. In the workshop handout on teaching materials, it was suggested that the leader's guide should serve four functions. First, it should contain base-level information on population-related concerns. Second, it should re-group this information into self-contained subject matter contents, as discussed in the previous section. Third, it should suggest how these content units might be integrated into ongoing activities for rural youth. Fourth, it should explain the preparation and use of teaching materials which could facilitate the task of youth leaders in communicating the population education message.
This concept of the leader's guide met with the full approval of the participants. They stressed that the leader's guide should be highly illustrated and easy-to-read. A number of the participants suggested that all or part of the leader's guide could be prepared in comic book format. In this regard, the participants notee that the comic book format would be acceptable in black and white, if colour printing were not economically feaible. As many of the participants in the workshop were youth group leaders, their reactions and comments provide reliable guidelines for determining the level and format of the leader's guide.
The participants expressed serious concerns regarding the availability and cost of materials for flannelboard construction and use. Some participants suggested that flannelboards could be used only if a complete flannelboard set were to be professionally prepared and distributed along with the leader's guide.
The consensus of the participants was that instructions for construction and use of flannelboards should be included in the leader's guide, but that flannelboards were likely to be a secondary teaching tool in Sierra Leone.
Flip charts and flash cards
The participants were all familiar with the use of flip charts and flash cards. They felt that both types of materials were particularly good for stimulation of discussions with a youthful audience. In particular, it was noted that flash cards could be used to "test" the memory of youth group members. Some of the participants noted the possibility of printing information for the youth group leaders on the reverse side of flip chart images. In this way, the leaders could have immediate access to relevant information or discussion questions.
One participants noted that flip charts and flash cards could be produced by the youth themselves as part of the teaching process.
Other participants expressed concern about the artistic ability of youth leaders and group members to produce materials. They suggested that it would be useful if the leader's guide contained basic shapes to trace or copy when making teaching materials at the local level. One participant noted that local artists could be involved in the preparation of these materials. Another suggested that a competition could be arranged in which the best locally-produced flip chart could be produced commercially for national distribution.
In terms of actual preparation of flip charts and flash cards, some participants were concerned about the availability of materials, i.e. paper and paints or drawing supplies. However, most were convinced that acceptable raw materials could be acquired at affordable prices.
The participants examined a number of posters which had been collected during the first phase of activity of Project INT/86/PO8. They suggested that posters would be of use to generate interest or to reinforce a concept, but that they would not be sufficient to communicate a complex message such as that of population education.
The participants suggested that two types of posters might be appropriate for use in Sierra Leone. The first would be posters prepared by the youth groups themselves as a participatory activity. This would ensure that the posters were appropriate to their environment in terms of style and educational level. In addition, they could be designed to reinforce any selected message, as deemed important by the individual group.
The second use of posters would be to create awareness of the importance of population education at a national level. In this case, the participants felt that the posters would need to be professionally produced, especially if they were to be placed on public display in competition with commercial advertising messages.
Several participants noted that locally-produced posters could be collected and that the best ideas could be reproduced professionally for widespread distribution.
The participants had mixed feelings about the use of chalkboards in communicating a population education message to rural youth. They; appreciated the relatively low cost of preparing and using a chalkboard and note that, once prepared, a chalkboard can be used over and over. They suggested that posters and flipcharts might be designed on. a chalkboard before actually being produced on paper. They also noted that the chalkboard could be used for student participation or to compare and contrast ideas of concepts.
However, several of the participants noted the "scholastic" implications of the chalkboards and observed that out-of-school rural youth might react poorly to a school-like environment. Other participants observed that the chalkboard was most appropriate for communicating words and that many, if not most, of the youth group members would be illiterate. If the chalkboard were to be used to communicate images, the participants suggested that the leader's guide contain simple forms to trace or copy.
The participants examined a "learning cube" prepared by the International Labour Office (ILO) as part of a worker's population education programme. The cube is a collapsable cardboard box with population-related images on all six sides.
They felt that using the sides of a box as a three-dimensional flip chart was a good discussion starter and might be more interest-catching than standard flip charts. However, they noted that there would be significant problems in obtaining and maintaining cardboard boxes for this use. First, empty cardboard boxes are currently sold rather than given away in Sierra Leone, and prices average 40 Leones (several day's salary for the average worker). Second, cardboard boxes are in high demand as storage containers and might be stolen. Third, over a relatively short time, the cardboard boxes would be likely to deteriorate, especially if they were to be folded flat after each use.
The participants suggeted that the leader's guide should include a discussion of ways to use cardboard boxes as teaching aids but that they should not be considered a primary medium in Sierra Leone.
Folk drama and puppets
There was consensus among the participants that folk drama had high potential for use in presenting concepts of population to rural youth.
Improvised drama, often combined with songs or jingles, is a common part of life in rural Sierra Leone. In addition, this drama serves a dual function. It is both entertaining and instructional. The participants noted that folk drama was often used to communicate messages that may be difficult or embarassing on a face-to-face basis.
The participants stressed the advantages of the participatory nature of folk drama. Youth like to play-act, they said, and it would be easy to get a group involved in producing a population education drama.
One participant also noted that folk drama can serve as a link between the youth group and the rest of the village or community. A youth group performance would attract an audience of adults and could be instrumental in maintaining community support and approval for the population education programme. It could also interest other youth in joining the group. In addition, the production would be in local language and therefore be understandable by all, both literate and illiterate .
The participants expressed doubts as to the value of using puppets as a part of folk drama activities. They explained that puppets were not commonly used and that materials would be expensive and difficult to obtain.
Cassette tapes and other "high technology" media
The participants recognized the potential of electronic media in communicating the population education message, but cautioned that their use in the rural areas of Sierra Leone would be difficult at present. Many area are without regular sources of electricity and electric equipment is both expensive and difficult to maintain. In addition, radio reception is poor or non-existent in many rural areas of Sierra Leone.
One participant suggested the use of portable, battery-operated cassette recorders but other felt the recorders would quickly be broken or stolen. The participants concluded that, for the moment, high technology media were probably not the most appropriate way to reach rural youth in Sierra Leone.
The overall objective of this session was to outline appropriate strategies for the introduction of population education onto programmes for rural youth, i.e. how best to get the message to rural youth? The participants were asked to consider four basic questions:
Should the population education programme for rural youth work through existing groups, or should it attempt to organize new groups specifically desinged to communicate a population education message?
What types of groups might be appropriate for involvement in a population education programme?
What specific groups might best be included in the population education programme for rural youth in Sierra Leone?
Within the selected group of groups, how should the population education message be introduced? As a separate topic? Integrated into an ongoing activity? And if so, what activity or activities?
Before addressing these questions, the participants first noted that, as the key contact or focal point, it was important to define the role of youth group leaders in rural areas. The participants identified the main responsibilities of youth group leaders as those of: 1)mobilization; 2) motivation; and 3) mediation.
In terms of mobilization, it is the youth group leader who is reponsible for organizing and calling youth group meetings. The frequency of these meetings varies, from once a month in some cases, to daily contact in active income-generating schemes.
It is also the responsibility of the youth leaders to motivate the youth in their community. To do this effectively, the participants felt that youth leaders must help identify problems, determine; priorities and set the pace of change in their community. The participants felt that it was important that the youth leaders set a personal example for the rest of the youth.
The third major responsibility of the youth leaders is to act as the voice of the group in discussions with the adults in the community and/or with national level organizations, including government and non-government bodies.
To adequately carry out these functions in relation to population education, the participants felt strongly that programmes of pre-service and in-service training were a necessity. They noted the appropriateness of including population education concepts in the training courses offered at training centres including the National Training Centre for Rural Development (venue of the current workshop). However, they also noted that training programmes would need to be offered at various education levels to permit participation by those youth leaders who were illiterate or semi-literate, for example, the local leaders of the secret societies.
The participants felt strongly that, wherever possible, the introduction of population education should be done through existing groups. They noted the advantages of working through existing groups:
- The group already has a working structure, organization, membership, meeting place, etc.;
- The population education message can be integrated into ongoing activities, providing an additional incentive for youth participation;
- The expense of working with an existing group is less than that of creating a new one;
- The time required to integrate a population education message into an existing group programme is less than that required to form a new group.
The participants recommended that activities begin in areas where there are established youth groups. In areas where there are no youth groups currently active, they suggested that youth could be mobilized by the intitiation of agricultural or income-generating activities. In particular, the participants noted the proven potential of small businesses and petty trading schemes, for example, garee (cassava) processing, and soap making. Once these activities were in place, the participants felt it would then be possible to introduce population education concepts. There was consensus that the initial activity must be of intrinsic interest to the group. The participants felt that the best way to ensure this would be by implementing needs assessment analyses at the group level.
As the participants moved toward discussion of the specific groups which might be most appropriate for introduction of population education message, it became apparent that there would be a need for coordination at the national level. The participants felt strongly that a local youth group would not be able or willing to introduce population education into its activities without the approval and support of its parent organization.
Therefore, the participants suggested that a national-level planning committee should be given the respnsibility of integrating the population education concept at policy level in all agencies, ministries and non-governmental organizations. They agreed that this function could be handled by the Inter-Ministerial Coordinating Committee for Social Services Projects.
At a national level, coordination would be required among the international assistance agencies (UNDP, UNFPA, FAO, etc.); the appropriate ministries including the Ministry of National Develoment and Economic Planning (focal point the Population and Human Resources Division), Ministry of Rural Development, Social Services and Youth, Ministry of Agriculture, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Labour, Ministry of Education; and the national direction of the various nongovernmental organizations.
The participants noted that the National Council of Social Services (under the Ministry of National Development and Economic Planning) could serve as an umbrella organization linking all non-governmental organizations. However, the Council is not active at present and would require revitalization.
The participants also felt that coordination would be required at the district level. They suggested that this could be handled through the Regional Planning Offices. This national and district level coordination would ensure that local youth groups would encounter approval and not opposition as they were approached to integrate population education into their ongoing activities.
The participants then considered the types of group which might lend themselves to the incorporation of a population education message. Although the workshop handout suggested that these organizations might be sub-divided into government, non-government and religious groups, the participants chose not to give priority to one or the other. Instead, they felt that it was essential to involve youth from all three categories in order to reach the greatest possible number of rural youth with the population education message.
The participants offered the following list of groups which could be involved in the population education effort:
- The APC Youth League
- Home Economics Association
- Planned Parenthood Association
- Sierra Leone Council of Theatre Groups
- Boy Scouts
- Girl Guides
- Boys Brigade
- The Voluntaray Work Camp Association
- the various, cooperative societies
- the various youth fellowships
- Meals for Millions
- Plan International
- Youth with a Mission
- The Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA)
- Catholic Youth Organization
- the Red Cross
- the Muslim Brotherhood
The participants agreed that the most effective way of introducing the population education message in the selected groups would be to integrate it into ongoing activities. By assisting the group in its primary activity, the participants felt the group would become receptive to the addition of the population education message. However, the participants did not rule out the possibility of intnroducing population education as a separate activity within the youth group.
The participants recommended that training at all levels be included in follow-up plans. Specifically they suggested that population education information as discussed in the workshop be included in the pre-service curriculum of training institutes for youth leaders and community leaders.
In this respect, the participants stressed the need for informed youth leaders. Otherwise, traditional beliefs, including those which are no longer consistent with current realities, will continue to be perpetuated. The participants noted that the training should not simply ignore traditional beliefs, but rather should examine them in order to maintain as much as possible, while modifying those elements which impede full development.
The participants recommended that the Ministry of National Development and Economic Planning and the Ministry of Rural Development, Social Services and Youth take joint responsibility for follow-up activities.
They recommended that the ministries convene a steering committee meeting of appropriate parties to discuss the report of the workshop and further follow-up. The participants suggested that the following parties should be represented on the steering committee:
Ministry of National Development and Economic Planning
- Social Services Division
- Population and Human Resources Development Division
Ministry of Rural Development, Social Services and Youth
- Youth Division
- Planning Division
- Chief Social Development Officer - National Training Centre
Ministry of Health
- Primary Health Care and Nutrition Division
Ministry of Education
- Institute of Education (curriculum development responsibility)
- Home Economics Division
Ministry of Agriculture
- Planning, Evaluation, Monitoring and Statistics Division
- Training Division
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
United Nations Fund for Population Activities
The participants made the following formal recommendations:
|1)||Sierra Leone should continue as a pilot country on Project INT/86/PO8, Integration of Population Education into Programmes for Rural Youth in Low-Income Countries.|
|2)||FAO and UNFPA should assist rural youth workers and leaders in existing youth groups with transportation - bicycles, motorbikes, spare parts - and related support.|
|3)||FAO and UNFPA should support permanent, i.e. continuing in-service and pre-service training for youth leaders and extension workers, especially young women agricultural extensionists.|
|4)||FAO and UNFPA should continue to encourage and provide support for formation of rural agricultural youth clubs and young farmers clubs at chiefdom levels.|
|5)||FAO should promote exchange programmes and study tours for rural youth leaders.|
|6)||Sierra Leone should formulate a rural youth policy within the framework of the national development plan.|
|7)||Population education training should be included in the curricula of pre-service and in-service training programmes.|
|8)||Discussion and elaboration of a population education programme should be continued.|
|9)||An association of rural youth and young farmers should be established to serve as a channel of communication between government and rural youth organizations at district and regional levels. The initiation of such an association should come from youth leaders themselves.|
|10)||A unit should be established within the Youth Division of the Ministry of Rural Development, Social Services and Youth to evaluate and support population education activities for rural youth.|
|11)||Special emphasis should be placed on involvement of female youth in all rural youth activities.|
The participants also completed a form evaluating the organization, implementation and relevance of the workshop. A summary of their responses is attached as Annex 5.
The workshop was closed by Mr. M. E. Kaikai. Mr. Kaikai thanked the participants for the time and effort they had contributed to making the workshop a success. He noted that although Sierra Leone is not presently in a population explosion situation, the implementation of a population education programme is necessary to ensure that this does not take place.
The best way to avoid a population explosion, said Mr. Kaikai, is to get to the youth; the adults have already made their decisions as to family size and structure. Selection of rural youth for primary emphasis is a big step in preventing Sierra Leone from having the negative experiences suffered by many other developing countries. With the already difficult economic situation in Sierra Leone, a population explosion would have a devastating effect.
Mr. Kaikai characterized the workshop as very worthwhile and suggested that all the participants would have much to pass on to their fellow youth. He gave thanks to UNFPA and FAO for selecting Sierra Leone as a pilot country, thanked the workshop organizers for the complete and excellent preparation, and expressed his enthusiasm for future follow-up activities.
A final statement of thanks was made by Mr. David Williams, a participant in the workshop. On behalf of the other participants, he thanked the Director of the National Training Centre for making the Centre facilities available. He characterized the experience of "rubbing shoulders for two and one-half days" as very rewarding and thanked FAO and UNFPA both for the funds to make the workshop possible and for the technical expertise which had been provided. "We enjoyed ourselves and learned a lot," said Mr. Williams, "and will do all we can to get our recommendations into action by the time FAO returns for the follow-up activities in 1988."