Learner Guide Program (uses My Better World curriculum)
Learner Guide Program is currently active in Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe
Grade Level of Students Participating
Number of Students Participating per Year
121,212 students participated in 2016.
Year Organization Began
Camfed began in 1993
The Learner Guide Program with My Better World curriculum began in 2014.
Relationship to the public education system
Camfed’s primary partnership in all five countries where it works (Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe) is with the relevant ministries in government. They work within existing structures to build the capacity of these structures. They currently work in 5,306 government schools.
The Learner Guide Programme is active in 1,009 government schools in Ghana, Tanzania and Zimbabwe, with the sessions that young women trained as Learner Guides deliver integrated into the school timetable, and supported by school administration, teachers, and local authorities.
Organization’s Vision and Mission
Vision: A world in which every child is educated, protected, respected and valued, and grows up to turn the tide of poverty.
Mission: Camfed multiplies educational opportunities for girls and empowers young women to become leaders of change. They focus on girls and young women in rural areas, recognizing that this is where girls and women face acute disadvantage.
Brief Description of Program Activities
The Learner Guide Program is designed to simultaneously improve the quality of education and open up opportunities for young women in the transition from secondary school.
It is designed to fill the gap between a traditionally narrowly focused, highly academic curricula and the reality of the context rural students graduate into, where resilience, creativity and adaptability are requisite to overcoming a dearth of formal employment opportunity, and enable them to fully capitalize on the benefits of completing education.
It is expected to build confidence, academic self-esteem and self-sufficiency, and equip young people to make a successful transition to a secure adulthood and to contribute to their community.
- Established education delivery infrastructure with a network of young women who act as mentors: The Learner Guide Programme was launched within and benefit from Camfed’s established infrastructure. It is led by CAMA, Camfed’s alumnae network. CAMA members are among the first young women to complete secondary school in their communities. Because they have experienced rural poverty themselves, they are able to empathize with marginalized young people in their communities and are important role models and mentors in helping them to navigate the challenges they face.
- Partnerships to provide interest-free loans to develop the entrepreneurial skills of young women. As a key incentive for young women to make the 18-month commitment to become a Learner Guide, Camfed established a partnership with online microfinance provider Kiva2 to allow young women to access interest-free loans to start or grow their local businesses, recognizing their work as Learner Guides as a form of ‘social interest’. This component has the additional benefit of invigorating local rural economies.
- Structured support for continual and contextualized learning. Learner Guides benefit from an intensive two-week training program specifically designed to equip them to deliver the My Better World curriculum. This includes the provision of learning resources and lesson plans, followed by regular refresher training, support, and review. The training also assists young women to engage with school leadership and local authorities, recognizing that in their role as Learner Guide, they may uncover difficult issues affecting vulnerable young people that require additional support. Camfed is currently working towards national and international accreditation of the Learner Guide Program. In partnership with Pearson, they have developed a BTEC3 qualification to enhance Learner Guides’ employability and access to further education.
- Structured support with technology to provide community and quality education to rural communities. Camfed has created the Social Education Network (SEN), a bespoke, secure mobile technology platform to allow Learner Guides working in remote rural schools to connect, provide peer support and exchange tips and advice; access information on new opportunities, such as additional training courses; and facilitate loan management. Camfed is also in the process of training Learner Guides to use e-reader technology in a partnership with Worldreader.
- A curriculum for wellbeing and creative expression, grounded in local context and knowledge. The program uses the My Better World curriculum that was developed with young people in Zimbabwe and Tanzania and with technical support from Pearson. The curriculum focuses on wellbeing and creative expression, and on building individual aptitude and qualities to improve learning and life outcomes in a way that recognizes the particular context of rural students. It is designed to complement national curricula focused on academic learning.
The My Better World curriculum aims to empower and incline people to take charge of their lives - to improve their quality of life – and to make the world a better place. It equips learners with the deep knowledge that is essential to being well and doing well, with a focus on the following:
- developing a sophisticated view of the world, including forming a rich conception of what quality of life is;
- understanding what it means to make life better;
- developing a deep self-knowledge, including understanding the mental qualities that are the principal determinants of quality of life.
Additionally, the program believes learning should be transformational, relevant, expansive, self-directed, personalized, social, active, transparent, and low-cost.
Program Content: Intrapersonal Competencies
The My Better World curriculum encourages learners to reflect on what “wellbeing” means to them, and on the constituent parts of that wellbeing, which may include basic needs such as health, safety and security, calm and comfort, autonomy and competence, self-esteem, achievement and growth, purpose and meaning, hope and optimism, understanding, interest, play, caring, love, belonging and respect, fairness, appreciation and wonder, and happiness.
The curriculum encourages and supports young people to develop and practice competencies including courage, resilience; being open-minded, flexible, realistic, conscientious, efficient, goal-directed, proactive, responsible, sincere, honest, curious, imaginative, creative, resourceful, thoughtful, and wise.
Program Content: Interpersonal Competencies
The My Better World curriculum also encourages learners to reflect on the wellbeing of others and on how they can practise the competencies listed above to improve the wellbeing of others and to develop effective relationships.
The curriculum is delivered by Learner Guides, young rural women who have graduated from school with Camfed’s support and share the same background of rural poverty as the learners they are reaching. Their interactions with students help the development of interpersonal communication, skills and collaboration.
Program Content: Cognitive Competencies
The My Better World curriculum equips learners with new vocabulary so that they can better discuss, explore, and learn. They are encouraged to think critically, logically, and thoughtfully.
As Learner Guides start or grow local businesses, they learn the cognitive skills associated with running a business. Independent evaluations have shown that participation in Camfed programs, including the Learner Guide program, is associated with increased outcomes in literacy and numeracy.
Program Content: Attitudes and Values
Hope and optimism, understanding, belonging and respect, being kind, compassionate, generous, articulating their own beliefs and values. Concern for themselves and for their communities and the world.
Program Content: Pedagogy/ Active Engagement of Students
The Learner Guide Programme is delivered through a student-centered, collaborative approach. It positions young women who can both empathize with students and stand up as role models for them as facilitators of learning.
Learner Guides encourage students to take charge of their learning, and to feel they own the My Better World curriculum and guidebook they receive; each student receives their own personal copy, to write in and use as they wish. In a context where learning resources are scarce, this may be the very first time they have had this opportunity.
Students have commented on how they have felt empowered by the program: 91% of students surveyed in the recent independent evaluation reported that it had led to a change in their behaviour or their attitude towards school.
Fauzia, from Tamale in Ghana, said: “I get excited anytime we have sessions on the My Better World Programme. We rarely get the kind of patience we get from the Learner Guides from our teachers. They painstakingly take us through every single detail of the modules. They advise us on our studies and on life. Listening to them, I want to be a future leader.”
Wazila, also from Ghana, commented that “Sometimes I feel the guidebook was designed with me in mind. It talks about decision-making, wellbeing, powers and a lot more. It has really changed my attitude towards learning and towards others. I stay with my mother and three siblings and can’t wait to share what I have learned here with them when I go home.”
Camfed’s approach is premised on reinforcing existing local government and community structures to respond to the needs of marginalized girls, thereby growing local institutional, social, financial and knowledge capital as the basis for scale and sustainability.
The successful development of the program has involved a high level of collaboration and innovative cross-sectorial partnerships between government ministries, local communities, the private sector, not-for-profits and social enterprise.
The program is explicitly grounded in the theory that good programs not only need to be grounded in research, but also need input from young people, education authorities, community leaders, teachers, parents to ensure relevance of content, understanding of language, and to acknowledge and draw on local expertise. All aspects of the program were co-created and validated by the communities in which they are working.
Camfed’s model was recently recognized by the OECD as best practice in taking development innovation to scale.
Additional Links of Note
2) This 24 minute documentary, "Going Places; Girls' Education in Ghana” aired on Al Jazeera English in October 2015 as part of a series of six 24-minute films on women from the developing world called "Women Make Change."
1All information in this organizational profile come from Camfed’s website, from the My Better World curriculum, and May 2016 interviews with Ross Hall, developer of the My Better World curriculum, and with Katie Smith, Director of Operations at Camfed.
2Kiva is an online provider of micro loans serving low income entrepreneurs. www.kiva.org
3BTECs (Business and Technology Education Council) are vocational qualifications designed to give students the skills they need to move on to higher education or into employment. They are portable, transferable qualifications recognised in over 100 countries.
Connie K. Chung