Evaluation of Adolescents: Agents of Posivive Change Program (2005-2011) UNICEF and MENARO

Evaluation of Adolescents: Agents of Positive Change Program (2005-2011)

Submitted by kdevries on March 5, 2013 - 8:29am

Subtitle:  Phase 1 and 2

Author:  Kartini International team

Publication Date- January 1, 2012

Summary: "We have to create the space for adolescent participation and adapt for the situation. The youth are demanding it. We just need to create the platforms for it....Youth has significant contributions to make." - UNICEF Egypt team

In 2011, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) Middle East and North Africa Regional Office (MENARO) commissioned an external evaluation of its program "Adolescents: Agents of Positive Change" (Phase I and II), which has highlighted issues concerning the rights of adolescents and youth in the region, with a particular focus on participation.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), the program involved 7 countries from the region in Phase I from 2005-2007 (Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, occupied Palestine territory (oPt), Syria, and Tunisia) and Phase II from 2008-2011 with 9 countries, with Algeria joining in 2006 and Iran in 2008. Each of the 7 countries involved in Phase I established their own country-specific activities, with each giving a slightly different emphasis. As this was a regional program, it was also planned that there would be an emphasis on ensuring linkages and support among countries through the promotion of documentation, dissemination of tools, techniques, and of lessons learned. Phase II programming focused on consolidating, expanding, and working with partners to bring adolescent participation to scale to reach an increased number of adolescents, especially those most marginalised and at risk, with a particular emphasis on girls' participation. Some countries also concentrated on generating a solid knowledge base about adolescents and youth and disseminating this information. Additional work was also done by some to further influence the design, implementation, and monitoring of national policies related to adolescents and youth and to create and institutionalise adolescent-friendly learning spaces and centres.

The evaluation team either directly interviewed or received survey feedback from a total of 400 persons, including 223 adolescents and youth, through these methods:

Document review of programme proposals and regional and country progress reports from Phases I and II, as well as additional relevant documentation gathered during the country case study missions.

Three country case studies (Egypt, Morocco, and oPt) involving key informant interviews and focus group discussions (FGDs) with program beneficiaries and other stakeholders based on Most Significant Change methodology (MSC). Following training, and under the supervision of international and national consultants, a small group of young researchers who were also program beneficiaries served as FGD facilitators in Egypt and oPt. In Egypt, the evaluation also administered an online survey for users of a youth-oriented website.

Posting of 2 online surveys for countries that did not participate in a country case study, one directed towards adolescents and youth program participants and the second towards adults involved with the adolescents and youth in the program.

Phone interviews with implementing partners and UNICEF staff in the 6 countries that did not participate in the country case studies.

Phone or face-to-face interviews with UNICEF regional staff and with Sida personnel responsible for the program.

Overall, evaluators found that the program "has proven to be highly relevant to meeting the priority needs of adolescents and youth in the region and in addressing the need to change societal attitudes towards adolescent and youth participation and related practices regarding their involvement." Sample findings, organised by program objectives, include:

Establish a consistent knowledge base across the participating countries on adolescents and young people in order to influence policy and programming - Examples: In October 2010, a workshop was held in Tanger, Morocco, for UNICEF staff and partners to discuss and better understand knowledge management in relation to adolescents, including the new social media forms. The program also developed a MENA Gender Equality Profile on the Status of Girls and Women.  Strengthen the capacity of national governments, partners, service providers, and young people to streamline their priorities in national policies and to provide support for youth structures and to support networking - "here is clear evidence in each country of increased participation of adolescents and youth in either or both national policy development processes and in community leadership and action. Youth structures have been strengthened throughout the region."

Promote opportunities for adolescent participation in friendly spaces through home, school, and community - The approach used, "particularly when it was given a civic engagement focus and trained adolescents and youth as young researchers who undertook and responded to community need assessments, has had a highly positive impact on the young people involved, and has changed adult community member perceptions." Egypt, Jordan and oPt, in particular, with their community-led youth initiatives, civic engagement, and adolescent empowerment-focused programming "have created highly effective models for enhancing adolescent and youth participation that merit replication throughout the UN system. The impact on the adolescents and youth themselves has been transformative in nature..."

Build partnerships for advocacy to promote the rights of adolescents to development and participation - UNICEF has "established a solid base of highly diverse partnerships".

According to the report, the program's greatest successes can be found at the individual adolescent or youth level. A brief summary of some of the changes program participants expressed include: increased self-esteem and confidence; greater facility and confidence with public speaking; increased ability to negotiate with and influence peers, as well as family and community members; strengthened advocacy skills; development of a sense of pride in their contribution to their communities; development of a commitment to volunteerism, better time management; increased awareness of individual rights to participate in the planning, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of all development initiatives related to their communities; strengthened leadership skills; improved relationship with parents and other family members; ability to apply life skills to their actual day to day lives; development of a belief that they can have a positive impact on their communities; and a new hope for their future.

Although some weaknesses were identified - e.g., the need to include measures to ensure the participation of particularly marginalised and vulnerable groups of adolescents and youth (those with disabilities, youth facing mental health challenges, adolescent girls, adolescents and youth involved in alternative lifestyles or risky behaviour, etc. - overall, the evaluation found that the program partners have "set in motion a social change management process to shift how institutions and society work with and think of adolescents and youth and have been able to effect visible and measurable change in multiple countries in a relatively short period of time."

Web link:  Click here for the 190-page report in PDF format.