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3 Conclusions and recommendations

1. The need for population education for out-of-school rural youth was further confirmed through the INT/92/P94 pilot activities. The FAO population education concept of integrating education in issues related to agriculture, employment, income and community development with family life education, including sex education, family planning, health, nutrition, and child care proved to be useful and relevant for the youth leaders and the youth that participated in the pilot training activities. In some countries, the integration of population education with income-generating activities was successful in establishing an avenue for reaching out-of-school rural youth. Further efforts, however, are needed to identify opportunities and constraints of income-generating activities and their suitability as strategic carriers of population messages for out-of-school rural youth.

2. Field assessment findings show that short-term pilot activities have not been sufficient for the sustained integration of population education into non-formal educational programmes for rural youth. Given the considerable differences in the resource base, staff and audiences of formal and non-formal educational structures, the institutionalisation of population education in non-formal educational settings appears to have been hampered by serious financial and capacity constraints. The fact that donor funding of youth organizations is largely geared towards short-term projects does not leave them sufficient financial leeway to sustain long-term population training programmes with their own resources.

Future population education activities targeted at non-formal rural youth organizations would need to be based on an assessment of the institutional capacity of these organizations in terms of staff, volunteer support, financial resources, technical capabilities and their ability to cater for out-of-school rural youth on a long-term basis. Based on the results of such an assessment, population education would eventually need to be integrated in a long-term concerted effort on the part of donor organizations to strengthen rural youth organizations.

3. In some population education pilot locations, institutional networks for targeting out-of-school rural youth were non-existent. Population education training in some of these sites, (as was the case in Bolivia), was carried out as a coordinated effort between local resource institutions (schools, hospitals, and agricultural education and research institutions), which organized a community level training seminar series in population education for youth leaders. At the time of writing this report, pilot activities in Bolivia were not yet completed. However, preliminary observations suggest that the results of this collaborative effort may be useful in the identification of alternative channels and strategies for reaching out-of-school rural youth. In addition to working with rural youth organizations, potential channels for future population education activities could include, for instance, rural and community development programmes of both FAO and other executing/implementing agencies.

4. Through training-of-trainers - a key component in the implementation of pilot activities - a relatively large number of youths was reached at low cost. However, the quality of population education in the second training cycle by trained trainers was in some cases reported to be inadequate. Also, some country reports stated a male bias in the selection of training participants. Future pilot activities would therefore need to place more emphasis on familiarizing national project implementation teams with how to plan, implement, monitor and evaluate a pilot training programme. Thereby, it would be particularly important to base future training programmes on a training needs assessment in-country, in order to make the training curriculum relevant to local problems.

5. The FAO population education leader guides constituted the backbone of the inter-regional project pilot training activities. During the pilot process, the leader guides were translated into several local languages and adapted to local conditions. However, training participants mentioned during the project evaluation that if the guides had been prepared in the region or in-country, they would have reflected the local realities more accurately. This would be particularly important for those leader guides that build upon distinct agro-ecological conditions or cultural norms. Also, in-country preparation of educational materials would make it easier to tailor them to specific audiences, such as illiterate youth or indigenous communities.

Given the fact that population education prototype materials need country-specific and target group adjustments, and that population education materials are a necessary, but not sufficient, component of population education training for out-of-school rural youth, future FAO assistance in population education would need to focus on building national capacity for the preparation of educational materials and for the organization of professional training programmes in population education, rather than on providing ready-made booklets. In addition, the preparation of population education prototype materials on the basis of agro-ecological zoning, socio-cultural characteristics and gender variables rather than on a continent-wide basis could be explored. This core information could be provided by FAO on disk, CD or other electronic media in a word-processing format.

6. As a pilot exercise, more emphasis may have been necessary in the early stages of the project to develop common criteria for monitoring and evaluation, to assist the implementation partners in collecting information, and to analyze and document lessons learned. National coordinators of pilot activities maintained that a briefing on and discussion of pilot project objectives, implementation and monitoring and evaluation procedures among various teams of each region at the outset of the exercise would have been useful and would have enhanced project implementation. In addition, it was repeatedly stated by national project implementation teams that regional meetings to set up a system for self-evaluation, in which the implementation teams themselves would hold the responsibility for project evaluation would have further enhanced the pilot process.

In particular, the implementation teams in Bolivia, Peru and Thailand expressed a keen interest in sharing the lessons learned in their country exercises with other teams in the region. In view of the fact that both the Peru and Bolivia country exercises operated in a rural area that did not have institutional infrastructure for youth programmes, a regional workshop comparing the Latin American experiences would be especially relevant and useful to the entire pilot exercise.

7. The results of Knowledge, Attitude and Practice Surveys (KAP) conducted in some of the pilot countries suggest that population education based on the FAO youth leader guides has had a positive impact on training participants in terms of the frequency that population issues were discussed, awareness of the risks of early pregnancy, and changing preferences towards a reduced number of children. However, assessing the long-term impact of the exercise on the basis of these KAPs may not be adequate, as most of these changes in behaviour were measured immediately after the training. As was pointed out in the Peru pilot activity, long-term impact requires a long-term educational process rather than a limited number of population education sessions delivered over a brief period of time.

8. The pilot activities created considerable interest as well as high expectations in terms of a full-fledged project among youth organizations. However, so far, follow-up action at the country level has been difficult due to a lack in resources on the part of youth organizations and the absence of involvement and coordination of pilot activities with UNFPA country programmes.

During this project review, some UNFPA Country Directors and CST team members stated that they were not sufficiently involved in the planning and implementation of pilot activities at the country level. In Zimbabwe, for instance, the FAO population education activities duplicated initiatives undertaken by the Boy Scouts under the UNFPA country programme. Close coordination and collaboration with UNFPA country programmes, however, appears to be crucial in providing adequate follow-up to the INT/92/P94 pilot activities. Given the high priority UNFPA attaches to targeting programmes at adolescents, follow-up to INT/92/P94 should be planned in such a way as to ensure close collaboration between FAO and UNFPA, both at Headquarters and at the country programme level.

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