COVID-19 IPPF Innovation and Best Practice: Digitalizing For Young People in Mali

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Digitally-delivered Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) for the youth in Mali

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CONTACT

Alden Nouga-Ngog Chief, Strategic Partnership & Development International Planned Parenthood Federation London, UK, [email protected] +1 6174129746

CASE STUDY SOURCE

International Planned Parenthood Federation

PROJECT STATUS

Ongoing

IMPLEMENTATION PARTNERS

Malian Association for the Protection of Promotion of the Family (AMPPF)

FUNDER

Supported by a variety of unrestricted and restricted funders

CONTACT (AS LISTED IN ORIGINAL CASE STUDY)

Alden Nouga-Ngog Chief, Strategic Partnership & Development International Planned Parenthood Federation London, UK, [email protected] +1 6174129746

Target Users

Client

Enabling Environment Building Blocks

Services and Applications

Family Planning Program Classification

Demand Generation

Digitally-delivered Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) for the youth in Mali

Introduction

The COVID-19 pandemic in Mali saw numerous restrictions in the country, with schools forced to close and the prevention of face-to-face gatherings causing a halt to Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). Holistic, developmental, and age-appropriate CSE programs enable young people to make informed decisions about their sexuality and health, while building life skills and promoting gender equality.

As a country with one of the highest fertility rates in the Africa region [1] and where only a quarter of Malian girls complete high school, CSE is an essential service of IPPF’s Member Association in Mali – the Malian Association for the Protection of Promotion of the Family (AMPPF) – for young people, both inside and outside school. While AMPFF had expanded youth services through its networks from 2018, COVID-19 initially reduced its service activities by over 50 per cent. In response, AMPFF got innovative in using digital tools to engage with young people and continue delivering CSE, to ensure that adolescent birth rates did not spike as collateral damage of COVID-19.

About COVID-19 IPPF

In response to COVID-19, AMPFF quickly converted its face-to-face CSE model to hold online sessions on digital platforms such as WhatsApp and Facebook. These digital CSE sessions are conducted weekly and cover different themes such as puberty and consent for Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) services. AMPPF now works with the Youth Action Movement (YAM) members and trained community-based peer educators as youth champions who facilitate digital CSE through WhatsApp groups and interactively work through the modules with the youth groups. This interactive component of the WhatsApp learning group enriches learning, ensures that discussions support the learning sessions and allows space to answer all questions. Further, to facilitate sessions and keep groups connected, AMPPF assists with the provision of connection devices and internet packages. This enables the smooth delivery of interactive and successful sessions which are tailored to age and setting. These Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) education programmes are broadcasted via a dedicated web-based AMPPF TV channel on YouTube and Facebook.

EVALUATION AND RESULTS

Firstly, the AMPPF team trained 70 teachers on the seven components of CSE, as well as trained 229 students on various combinations of these, through social and digital platforms. This has allowed for the expansion of education provision and awareness raising activities.

Secondly, to complement the online sessions, awareness campaigns on SRHR are being conducted by radio and social media. With the training of 70 teachers and 229 students on CSE, and the shift to social and digital platforms, this resulted in 160,288 young people being reached with components of digital CSE and online services, enabling AMPPF to work with the largest group of young people they have ever served.

LESSONS LEARNED

– The digitalization of CSE strategies has demonstrated the successful reach of online services, making the case for governments to develop guidelines for delivering online CSE and to provide technical assistance and capacity building support. Digital CSE interventions are likely to be more beneficial when mainstreamed and conducted along with online classes during routine school hours and should complement, rather than replace, face-to-face delivery.

– Online access is costly for young people and low literacy levels among young people can limit the effectiveness for digital CSE interventions. However, there is potential to increase telemedicine access and digital educational platforms if future financial resources can be found.

– Young people have expressed interest in strengthening their knowledge of online CSE, however, there should be limits to group sizes.

– The interactive debates during online sessions were useful to help young people engage with, and expand upon, CSE themes.

CONCLUSION

With the youth population being exceptionally impacted by COVID-19 through limiting their mobility and access to SRHR, the impact of AMPPF’s digital innovations in ensuring the continuity of CSE cannot be overstated. Through harnessing youth social networks through Facebook, WhatsApp, Web TV and YouTube, AMPPF helped to mitigate the impacts of school closures and heightened vulnerabilities of youth by ensuring that many were equipped with knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and their rights. In seeing the success of these innovations, AMPPF will now formalize learning on digital platforms for CSE. This involves developing tools to provide meaningful youth engagement for online learning, sharing information and service provision.

Development of an App to facilitate the content and learning will additionally make the service more accessible for youth. Further, peer to peer learning opportunities will be explored within the IPPF Africa Region including the Togo Member Association and the Center of Excellence (CoE) for youth, who have achieved great success delivering online CSE. Lastly, AMPPF will aim to increase their impact by engaging relevant stakeholders in health and education to ensure that policies are in place to support CSE work in the country for sustainable change.

REFERENCES

United Nations (2019), UN Population Division Data Portal: Interactive access to global demographic indicator, viewed 7th October 2021, https://population.un.org/dataportal/home