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1 Introduction

Project objectives, target group and strategy
Terms of reference
Evaluation procedures and methods

The purpose of this report is to review a series of pilot activities in population education in nine countries of Latin America, Africa and Asia under the inter-regional project: "Integration of Population Education into Programmes for Out-of-School Rural Youth". The objective is to identify project strengths and weaknesses and to draw lessons from the diverse country experiences, which can strengthen future FAO work in the area of population education. Section 1 provides the background and methodology of the project review. Section 2 analyses and highlights the project's educational approach and implementation modalities, and Section 3 draws conclusions and recommendations.


"I wish I would have had the opportunity to participate in the training on reproductive health as a teenager, rather than learning about sex the hard way at the street comer", said a 21-year old woman at the launching of the FAO/UNFPA population education programme for 50 young men and women youth leaders in Ascencion de Guarayos, Bolivia. In Bolivia, like in many other developing countries, population education initiatives for young men and women in rural areas are few and far between, despite the fact that lowering fertility rates is a stated priority in terms of government policy for most countries that participated in this inter-regional project.

Despite substantial achievements in lowering fertility rates and limiting population growth during the past decades, significant differences in fertility rates between urban and rural areas persist, with substantially higher fertility rates in rural areas. In Peru, for example, rural fertility rates at 5.6 are still twice as high as urban fertility rates at 2.8, as indicated in Figure 1 below.

Figure 1: Fertility Rates in Peru: Differences between Rural and Urban Areas, Social Status and Level of Education

Source: El Commercio, 15. October 1995, Lima, Peru

Even more significantly, perhaps, the highest fertility rates are reported for disadvantaged groups working in agriculture (6.0), particularly those without access to formal education. In fact, in many cultures, young women are still encouraged to marry and have children early in life, despite the serious health, socio-economic and demographic consequences of adolescent childbearing.1

1 For more background information see Youth, Population and Development, UNFPA Programme Advisory Note. New York, no date.

In several countries in Asia and the Pacific, rapid socio-economic development is resulting in a delay in age at marriage and thus in a growing pool of unwed teenagers, according to a recent study on Adolescent Reproductive Behaviour in the Asian and Pacific Region2. This trend may contribute to an increase in the risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases and in unwanted pregnancies and single motherhood. The study further points out that most countries lack the information needed for appropriate policy and programme responses to these issues and recommends the collection of data not only from married women, as is currently done, but also from unmarried teenagers and young women, regarding their sexual behaviour, contraceptive practices, pregnancy and childbearing. In addition, as Governments may be reluctant to provide contraceptive services to youths, innovative strategies to reach sexually active young men and women are becoming all the more urgent.

2 United Nations (ESCAP) (1992): Adolescent Reproductive Behaviour; Asian and Pacific Region> Population Research Leads.

Rural-to-urban migration is yet another problem in many of the pilot countries, with far-reaching implications for population education programmes. In Thailand, many young men and women migrate from rural to urban areas before the age of 25 (see Figure 2) and become exposed to risks and conditions for which they are ill-prepared. Population education could contribute to easing this transition from rural to urban life.

Figure 2: Thailand: Migration Rate by Age and Sex: 1985-1990

Source: Pejaranonda, C. et al. (1995): Rural-Urban Migration in Thailand. In: United Nations (ESCAP): Trends, Patterns and Implications of Rural-Urban Migration in India, Nepal and Thailand. Asian Population Studies Series, No. 138.

The examples above highlight the growing need for population policies and for information, education and communication (IEC) strategies targeted to youth in rural areas. This was repeatedly confirmed in discussions held during this project review with youth leaders, government officials, UNFPA Country Directors and CST Team Leaders, FAO Representatives and directors of non-governmental youth organizations, who acknowledged that rural youth - regardless of how "youth" is defined as a group - constitutes a key target for population IEC-strategies.

Population education (see Boxes 1 and 3) is particularly critical for adolescents, who begin making decisions about their sexuality and about education, migration and other demographically relevant choices, and are increasingly exposed to risks, such as teenage pregnancy, STDs, HIV/AIDS, etc. Information and educational programmes on population issues are particularly relevant for young men and women in rural areas who do not attend school or drop out at an early age, and therefore do not have access to school-based population education nor to adult population education information.

Box 1: Population education

Population education is defined in the FAO population education leader guides as a "learning process that enables people to understand how rapid population growth affects their quality of life or standard of living. The goal of population education is to give people enough information to be able to make responsible decisions about family size in a way that is personally meaningful and socially relevant."3

3 FAO (1990): Introduction to the Population Education Leader Guides. Rome, Italy.

In many developing countries, up to 70% of the young people between the ages of 15 and 25 live in rural areas with few primary schools and poorly qualified teachers. Of those that do attend school, 30% drop out during the first few years. In some regions of the world, as few as 10% of the children continue their education beyond primary school. Of that 10%, less than one-tenth finish secondary school. According to UNESCO statistics, there are between 130 and 150 million out-of-school youth worldwide. These numbers are increasing, not falling. Over two-thirds of these out-of-school youth are girls and young women.4

4 "FAO's Role in Supporting Rural Youth Programmes and Possibilities for the Future," Background Paper presented at the Expert Consultation on Extension Rural Youth Programmes and Sustainable Development, Rome, 29 November-1 December 1995, p.2.

For the purpose of planning population IEC programmes, youth is usually divided into an in-school and an out-of-school cohort. While in many countries population education has been introduced in formal school curricula, the means with which to reach out-of-school youth are still not as developed. The lessons learned from this inter-regional project may contribute to the development of appropriate strategies for methodological approaches and institutional channels.

Project objectives, target group and strategy

The inter-regional project was designed with the long-term objective

" have institutionalized the process of bringing population education to rural youth and young farmers so that these young men and women will have the opportunity to understand the effects of rapid population growth and be in a position to make informed decisions about family size and responsible parenthood."

Out-of-school rural youths (ranging from 15 to 24 years of age) were identified as the priority audience of the pilot population education activities for the reasons outlined above.

The-project strategy was premised on a set of population education prototype materials (Box 2), designed for use by the leaders of rural youth groups in an earlier population education project (INT/88/P98: "Integration of Population Education into Programmes for Rural Youth in Low Income Countries"). It was foreseen that through this inter-regional project, these prototype materials would be introduced to new settings, with the necessary adaptation to different cultural backgrounds and translation into local languages. Population education for out-of-school rural youth would thus be introduced in participating organizations and countries and the strategies and materials would be disseminated widely.

The above-mentioned leader guides translate abstract concepts, such as national growth rate, population density and dependency ratio, into terms that are relevant to rural young men and women their families and their communities. Young people learn about family planning methods within the wider context of population change as it relates to agricultural, environmental, health, nutrition and community development issues.

Box 2: The FAO Population Education Leader Guides




Population and Agriculture


Population. Employment and Income


Population and the Environment


Population and Nutrition


Population and Health


Family and the Family Size


Human Growth and Development


Responsible Parenthood


How the Population Changes


Community Involvement

The main channels used by INT/92/P94 to make non-formal education and training in population Responsible Parenthood education accessible to out-of-school rural youth were governmental organizations, such as agricultural extension services and young farmer programmes, and non-governmental youth organizations, such as Boy Scouts, Girl Guides and 4-H groups, the YMCA/YWCA, religious organizations, etc.

The project operated on an inter-regional basis from FAO Headquarters in Rome, initially in close collaboration with the FAO Advisors of the UNFPA Regional Teams in Harare and Addis Ababa. Most of the pilot activities in the nine countries (see Appendix 1) were developed by FAO Rome in collaboration with national partner organizations. The operational instruments for setting up pilot activities were direct allotments to FAO Representatives in Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and China and "Letters of Agreement" between FAO and Ministries of Agriculture or national youth organizations in all other countries. The project did not include a Chief Technical Advisor or equivalent long-term expert, as the coordination of project activities was carried out by FAO Agricultural Extension and Education Service staff.

The project document had foreseen a number of regional and sub-regional meetings to introduce the leader guides and to develop pilot activities for field testing and for the adaptation of project strategies to local conditions. A regional meeting took place in 1994 in the Philippines, financed under the FAO Technical Cooperation Programme. This meeting gave Asian countries participating in the pilot activities the opportunity to exchange ideas, discuss bottlenecks and highlight successful project components. In particular, the workshop focused on preliminary pilot experiences and assisted the country teams in the development of pilot programmes or follow-up proposals. Even though originally foreseen, regional planning meetings and workshops for the exchange of experiences, other than the above-mentioned workshop in the Philippines, did not take place for operational reasons, as the project came to a close before participating countries had completed pilot activities.

According to the project document, inter-regional activities would be considered complete once the materials and programme strategies were adopted by institutions at the regional and national level. Follow-up activities at the national level would then be required to expand the programmes, utilizing country level resources. Assistance from the UNFPA country programmes was mentioned in the project document as a potential source for the further expansion of pilot activities.

At the time of preparation of this review, pilot activities in China, Ethiopia, Peru, Vietnam, and Zimbabwe had already been completed, while training in Bolivia, Colombia, Indonesia and Thailand were still on-going.

Terms of reference

The Rural Youth Population Education Consultant will be responsible for the documentation of the impact of INT/92/P94 in participating countries, and the collection and synthesis of all related reports and financial records of the project. This will involve international travel to selected countries in direct support of project activities in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

Specific duties include:

1. Write a report documenting the impact of all INT/92/P94 project activities based on a synthesis of country progress/final reports, including lessons learned, successes and failures. An in-depth study will be carried out on rural youth population education activities under INT/92/P94 in one country of each of the three regions of Asia, South America and Africa.

2. Over the course of the consultancy, write several briefs (maximum one page) on significant accomplishments and/or points of interest related to the implementation of INT/92/P94 for circulation to UNFPA, New York, Country Support Teams and Country Programmes through the Office of the FAO Population Programme Coordinator.

3. To the extent possible, work towards the continued involvement of UNFPA Country Directors and Regional UNFPA Support Teams in project implementation and assessment of progress towards the goal of incorporating a rural youth population education component into UNFPA Country Programmes as a follow-up to this inter-regional project.

4. Design a monitoring and evaluation system for the implementation of future activities.

5. Carry out other duties related to INT/92/P94 as requested.

Evaluation procedures and methods

This report is based on the following sources of information and data:

· A review of INT/92/P94 project documentation, including pilot project proposals, Letters of Agreement with participating institutions, correspondence with implementing organizations, mid-term and final reports.

· Field assessments of pilot activities in Peru, Bolivia, Zimbabwe and Thailand, which included semi-structured interviews and focus group discussions with trainees, volunteers and staff from the cooperating organizations, and discussions with FAO Representatives, UNFPA Country Directors, and Advisors and Team Leaders of UNFPA Country Support Teams (CSTs).

· Discussions in FAO Rome with FAO/UNFPA CST Advisors, with participants to the FAO Expert Consultation on Extension Rural Youth Programmes and Sustainable Development, and with the FAO/UNFPA Advisor to the Women, Population and Development Programme in China.

The assessment of the pilot activities presented below seeks to bring into sharp focus the relevance, long-term impact and sustainability of population education for out-of-school rural youth. To this effect, the consultant viewed his role as an intermediary between those participating in project implementation at the grassroots level and those involved in executing and funding the pilot activities. In other words, this evaluation has attempted to go beyond a mere analysis of inputs, outputs and immediate impact of the said activities. Such a limited focus would not reflect the diversity of the pilot activities in terms of the critical role of the institutional context and the socio-cultural environment.

The following limitations of this review of project pilot activities should also be borne in mind:

· Pilot activities in the different countries were not all at the same stage of implementation; this limited the possibility of effectively comparing and contrasting country experiences.

· In some countries, not enough time had lapsed between the completion of the pilot activities and the impact assessment; therefore, the reported findings can only be used as an indication of short-term project impact.

· In some countries, the pilot activities were on-going at the time of the review; this allowed for the identification of interesting and promising implementation approaches, but not for a final evaluation of the effectiveness of these approaches.

· As the pilot activities were implemented differently from country to country, it was difficult to use a single, uniform set of evaluation indicators.


The consultant would like to thank J. du Guerny, T. E. Contado, R. W. Seiders, and W. I. Lindley in FAO headquarters for their valuable technical and logistical support. Many individuals generously gave their time and extended their hospitality in Peru, Bolivia, Thailand and Zimbabwe. Special thanks are due to the FAO Representatives, and particularly to Mr. T. Oomen in Bolivia, the UNFPA Country Directors, and the CST Advisors, in particular E. Lafontant, C. Davies and R. Vera. Unfortunately, it is impossible to thank individually all the men and women from the national project implementation teams in Peru, Bolivia, Zimbabwe and Thailand who accompanied the consultant to the project sites, shared their ideas with him and made significant contributions to this report. E. Vidal, R. Mofaldo Rodriguez, and A. Keuters in Peru, A. Tejada Soruco in Bolivia, and Laksana Disyabutra in Thailand are among the many individuals whose hospitality and assistance made all the difference to the consultant's field work.

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