We have another entry for the “Lockdown Diaries” blog series! The world has been hard hit by the Corona virus (COVID 19) in an unprecedented way so there is no better time to launch these guest bloggers to get an in-depth look at how young people from various corners of the East and Southern African region are handling quarantine, self isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. You will follow their experiences through their eyes as young people – their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows, and reflections.

Stay tuned for more stories!

Written by  Chido Machawira, Harare Zimbabwe

So, I’ve been in the house for 5 weeks now, and honestly it hasn’t been so bad. As someone who is fairly comfortable being alone, the thought of a few weeks without physically contacting anyone outside of my immediate family wasn’t terrible. Quarantine has been many things for me: Its given me time. So much time to rest and work on myself; which is a gift in itself. Ive been keeping myself busy. Another thing Quarantine taught me was that boredom is a choice, a choice which I’ve seldom found myself taking comfort in. In the first week, I  honed in my cooking skills- from making spring rolls for lunch and apple crumble for dessert, I’ve definitely had a loads of fun in the kitchen. The second week began with my mom dragging me out of bed in the morning for a 4 km walk. This turned into a ritual which takes place every morning. Every. Morning. Not my favourite part of the day- but I’m enjoying spending more time with my mom, especially before I go to University. 
Week 3 found us in the garage; searching for board games and puzzles to entertain ourselves with. We found a 30 seconds and played for hours. This week I wanted to do something productive- so I signed up for an online course. When you sign up for one, you open yourself to a myriad of opportunities as a result of which I’ve been participating in at least one free webinar a week. During Week four, my parents took turns taking my brother and I around the neighbourhood driving- I’ve gotten lots of practice so, the first thing I’m doing once I’m allowed to leave the house is getting my drivers license! 
That brings us to this week, week five. This week I’ve been taking it quite easy- waking up early (no morning runs, thank the pope) and laying in bed. I have become quite aquatinted with Netflix lately- and am managing to finish a season of a show in two days. This skill isn’t very easy to attain; but I’ve mastered it. 
Overall- its been a good five weeks. Could I go on for five more? Lets just assume that if I do; I’ll go to university with a few degrees. One in culinary arts, Literature, and Netflix. Oh- and a six pack. 

CALL FOR PROPOSALS

Evaluation of the Ministerial Commitment on comprehensive sexuality education and sexual and reproductive health services for adolescents and young people in Eastern and Southern African (ESA)

1.     Background and Context:

A commitment for positive health outcomes for all young people in East and Southern Africa was endorsed and affirmed in 2013 by Ministers of Education and Health from 20 ESA countries. Together they agreed to work collaboratively towards a vision of young Africans who are global citizens of the future, who are educated, healthy, resilient, socially responsible, informed decision-makers, and have capacity to contribute to their community, country, and region. The countries that affirmed the commitment are Angola, Botswana, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Uganda, United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe[1].

The ESA Commitment, as it is known, is a response to the circumstances of the region’s adolescents and young people aged 10 to 24 years and numbering around 199 million. They face many sexual and reproductive health (SRH) challenges, including early and unintended pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), gender-based violence (GBV) and child marriage, discrimination and low access to quality friendly health services – all of which can undermine education opportunities, especially for girls, and affect future health and opportunities.

The ESA Commitment has time-bound targets agreed upon by member states which paved the way for actions to scale up delivery of sexuality education and related health services; supported joint action around developing programmes and sharing information; integration of services and reinforced linkages and referrals between schools and health services; and fostered an overall approach which facilitates access and equity and strengthens national responses to HIV and adolescent sexual and reproductive health and rights (ASRHR).

The ESA Commitment process was co-led by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and other UN partners, as well as the East African Community (EAC), Southern African Development Community (SADC), Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), and religious and youth leaders. To drive the ESA Commitment at regional level, a High Level Group (HLG) was created, composed of regional leaders in education, sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), HIV prevention, and development. Assisting the HLG is a Technical Coordinating Group (TCG), whose key task is to provide technical, administrative, and financial support to the ESA Commitment process. Having developed a Regional Accountability Framework (RAF) that breaks down the ESA Commitment targets into several processes and outcome indicators, the TCG has been instrumental in tracking progress through a harmonized monitoring and evaluation (M&E) system.

2.     Purpose and scope of the Evaluation

After six years of implementation, an evaluation of the Commitment is needed to assess the effectiveness of the Commitment in achieving targets and improving outcomes for young people. The overall objective of the evaluation is to assess the results, take stock of progress and generate knowledge and evidence from the ESA Commitment implementation experience in 20 member countries and their respective Ministries of Health and Education. The overall purpose of the evaluation is to assess the processes and achievements made through the ESA Commitment efforts in order to draw lessons that will inform the rationale for the extension of the ESA Commitment to 2030 to align with Agenda 2030. The evaluation is intended to be forward looking and will provide information on the nature, extent and where possible, the effect of the ESA Commitment to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of adolescents and young people in East and Southern Africa, while also forming a baseline for a possible extension of the commitment beyond 2020.

The evaluation will cover the entire implementation period from 2013 to 2020. It will assess the progress made in the specific areas of the ESA Commitment Accountability Framework, review the achievements or lack thereof in meeting the targets set for 2015 and 2020 and assess the efficacy of the multi-sectoral mechanisms employed to realize the Commitment. While the evaluation will cover the experiences of each member country, in-depth study will be conducted in ten purposefully selected countries from East Africa and Southern Africa and best practices will be documented and disseminated.

Specific objectives of the evaluation include the following:

1.       Relevance

The evaluation should assess the design and focus of the ESA Commitment Accountability Framework and review the extent to which the objectives of the Commitment are consistent with the needs and priorities of adolescents and young people, the implementation partners, and key stakeholders within the member states. Questions to be answered here include, but not limited to the following:

  • How has the ESA Commitment influenced the development of national ASRHR policy, strategy and plans?
  • How has the ESA Commitment influenced national priorities aiming at fulfilling adolescent and young people sexual and reproductive health rights?
  • To what extent has the target group been involved in the ESA commitment coordination processes in the country? Have the target populations/primary beneficiaries been reached? Why or why not?
  • To what extent are the interests, voices and priorities of adolescents and young people taken into consideration in planning and implementation of the interventions?
  • Has a participatory/coordination methodology been applied as a means to achieve a larger degree of ownership by the countries?
  • How do stakeholders and target groups perceive the ESA Commitment and contributions made toward improving the sexual reproductive health and rights of adolescents and young people? What is the perceived value going forward?
  • To what extent are issues of rights to Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) and HIV prevention for young key populations, particularly LGBTI considered?
  • Did the implementation of the ESA Commitments benefit from the support of the partners? If yes, who are the key stakeholders?

2.      Effectiveness

The evaluation will assess how the ESA commitment ‘operationalization’ processes that were put in place at regional and national level have been effective in coordinating the achievement of the commitment in the different countries. Questions to be answered include the following:

  • To what extent did the Technical Coordinating Group mechanism contribute in meeting results?
  • What results were achieved (quality and extent)? How were the results achieved? How do they respond to the targets set in the accountability framework?
  • What factors contributed to effective achievement of results, across the different country contexts?
  • How effective has the Accountability Framework been in responding to the needs of the beneficiaries?
  • What challenges were faced during implementation of the commitment and how can they be used to improve future plans in accessing services to the target group?
  • What are the future intervention strategies and issues?
  • Are there any examples of unintended results (positive or negative) from project implementation?

3.       Efficiency

The evaluation will assess the efficiency of ESA Commitment implementation in terms of how country investments in the areas of the commitment have converted to results. Questions to be answered include the following:

  • Have countries budgeted for the realization of the targets set by the accountability framework? If so, to what extent is the investment justified by its actual results so far?
  • To what extent have countries been able to coordinate all the relevant initiatives under the umbrella of the ESA Commitment?
  • What is the added benefit of a regional commitment / HLG/ TGC to achieving targets of the Commitment?
  • Have the interventions been brought to scale for optimal impact?
  • Are the national coordination mechanisms multi-sectoral in nature and do they include planning and fiscal Ministries such as Finance and Economic Planning?
  • What challenges if any have been experienced in project implementation?

4.       Sustainability

The evaluation should also examine the sustainability of national interventions designed to achieve the ESA Commitment’s targets. Questions to be answered include the following:

  • What is the likelihood of continuation and sustainability of the key interventions undertaken by countries and partners to achieve the ESA Commitment targets beyond the year 2020?
  • What are the strategies put in place at the national level to sustain the implementation of key interventions beyond 2020?
  • Are the results achieved under the umbrella of the ESA Commitment sustainable at national level?
  • What was the degree of involvement of private sector/civil society organizations in the implementation of ESA commitment as they are major service providers in health and education sectors?
  • Are the ESA Commitment interventions/targets integrated into and prioritized in the national development strategies and UN Sustainable Development Cooperation Framework at the Country level?
  • What are the opportunities for sharing and exchanging of best practices for replication and scale up within the countries in the ESA regions?

5.       Emerging issues

The evaluation should not only look into the results achieved against the accountability framework but will also generate the necessary information for a possible extension including emerging issues relevant to the core of the commitment and not yet included. Questions to be answered include the following:

  • If you had to recommend for the extension of the ESA Commitment beyond the year 2020, what are key areas of work that you would like to include? Why?
  • Please give us a list of three (3) main areas of work that need to be included in the ESA commitment to ensure the full realization of adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health and the principle of leaving no one behind?
  • Are there good practices/lessons learned that have emerged from the synergies and complementarities among the participating countries in form of South-South Cooperation?

3.     Methodology for Evaluation

A mixed-methods approach is desired for this evaluation. It is expected that the evaluation will gather both quantitative and qualitative data on the ten commitments, the nine targets of the commitment and the individual elements of the Accountability Framework. As such, the evaluation is expected to use a combination of methods, including but not limited to the following:

  • Desk study and review of all relevant documentation including the ESA Commitment documents, annual work-plans, annual progress reports, mid-term review report, reports of the High Level Group and the Technical Coordinating Group
  • Desk study and review of relevant secondary data, including Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS), Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) and other population surveys and studies, for all ESA Commitment member states
  • In depth interviews to gather primary data from key stakeholders using a structured methodology and interviews with relevant key informants
  • Focus Group discussions with beneficiaries and other stakeholders[2].

A Results-Based Management approach will be applied considering not only progress toward the targets set, but quality and the logic of the commitment, as well as its consequences. The approach would allow us to analyze why intended results have or have not been achieved. It will help to identify gaps and bottlenecks and enable assessment of specific causal contributions of outputs to outcomes, examine the implementation process and explore unintended results. The results-based approach will also ensure the measurement of relevance of the action and ownership of the programme and it will offer recommendations for improvement.

4.     Guiding Principles for the Evaluation

It is requested that the evaluation be conducted within the prescripts of the following four broad sets of evaluation standards as guiding principles for the consultancy, namely:  propriety standards, feasibility standards, accuracy standards and utility standards:

The propriety standards are ethical standards meant to ensure that evaluations are conducted with due regard for the rights and welfare of affected people. The most basic of the propriety standards is that evaluations should never violate or endanger human rights. Evaluators should respect human dignity and worth in their interaction with all persons encountered during the evaluation and do all in their power to ensure that they are not wronged.

• The feasibility standards are intended to ensure that evaluations are realistic and efficient. To satisfy these requirements, an evaluation must be based on practical procedures, not unduly disrupting normal activities, and be planned and conducted in such a way that the co-operation of key stakeholders can be obtained. They should also be efficient.

• The accuracy standards are meant to ensure that the information produced by evaluations is factually correct, free of bias, and appropriate to the evaluation issues at hand.

• The utility standards, finally, are meant to ensure that evaluations serve the information needs of their intended users: to be useful, evaluations must be responsive to the interests, perspectives and values of stakeholders.

A human rights-based approach should be employed to bring into focus not only the relevance, effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of activities carried out but also the processes of project implementation. Particular attention should be given to the principles of inclusion, participation, equality and non-discrimination, and accountability as addressed in project activities.

5.     Duration of the Evaluation / Timeframe

Activities Deliverables Timeframe (days)
Preparation  
Briefing with Technical Coordinating Group Minutes of
meeting
1-2August
2020
Review all relevant data sources and prepare an inception report to be submitted to the TCG The inception report will detail: methodology;availability of data sources, by commitment areas and Countries;schedule of activities and timeline per country;draft data collection tools;a data analysis matrix which links the questions in the data collection tools to the outcome areas/indicators/questions. Draft inception report
including tools available for
comments
8
Submit the final Inception report and quality assurance plan with all comments integrated Final inception report available 5
Data Collection  
Literature review of available  documents, survey reports and published studies on adolescents and young people relevant to the scope of this assignment   15
Qualitative and quantitative data collection fieldwork, including data capture and processing (Virtually)   50
Data Analysis and Reporting  
Analyze data collected and prepare draft report Draft evaluation report available for review by TCG and stakeholders 16
Integrate comments from TCG and stakeholders in draft report and share draft   4
Presentation of the draft report. Comments made by the key stakeholders will inform the final report   1
Produce final evaluation report incorporating all comments received and a final PowerPoint presentation summarizing the report.   5
Total of days and estimated timeframe   105 (From July to December 2020)

6.     Expected Deliverables

Deliverable 1:   An inception report which contains the objectives and scope, description of methodology/methodological approach, data collection tools, data analysis methods, key informants/agencies, review questions, performance criteria, work plan and reporting requirements including ethical approval requirements and tools for submission. It should include a clear matrix relating all these aspects and a desk review with a list of the documents consulted as well as a quality assurance plan.

Deliverable 2:   Draft report to be shared with key stakeholders for comments whose structure follows Introduction, Methodology, Analysis, Key challenges/Opportunities, Lessons Learned, Key Recommendations, Conclusions and Annexes.

Deliverable 3:   Presentation of the draft report: develop and present a PowerPoint presentation showing preliminary findings, lessons learned and recommendations to the ESA Commitment’s key stakeholders. Comments made by the key stakeholders will inform the draft report.

Deliverable 4:   Final evaluation report incorporating all comments received and a final PowerPoint Presentation summarizing the report.

Deliverable 5:   Master presentation of the findings and recommendations.

7.     Required expertise and qualification

The team of consultants should have the following profile(s).

Team leader

  • At least a PhD degree or equivalent level in one of the following fields: Public health, Demography, Development Studies, Health Economics, Social Sciences, or other related studies;
  • International experience of 10 to 15 years is required and past experience in working with the UN, EAC or SADC is an added advantage;
  • Experience working in East and Southern Africa;
  • Past experience as a team leader in a related assignment(s) and production of a quality evaluation report;
  • Proven experience in adolescent and young people sexual and reproductive health and rights;
  • Previous experience in similar assignments and inter-sectoral collaboration will have an added advantage;
  • Proven experience and skills in developing policy, strategic documents and conducting complex evaluation at regional and national levels will be an asset;
  • Experience and understanding of UN programming processes;
  • Excellent report writing, communication, interviewing and computer skills.

The Team leader will be required to submit one sample of previous similar work produced and 3 references or proof of satisfactory completion from the previous employers or contractors.

Team member Consultants

  • Master’s Degree in Population, Demography, Statistics, Public Health, Development Studies or other related studies;
  • At least 7 year of relevant experience;
  • Proven experience in conducting reviews and evaluations involving adolescents and young peoples’ sexual and reproductive health and rights;
  • Experience and skills in using evidence-based, knowledge base creation and ability to develop systems for improved performance;
  • Proven experience in Programme evaluations and assessments;
  • Evidence of an analytical work in the subject matter;
  • Excellent report writing, communication, interviewing and computer skills.

 All interested consultants/firms are requested to submit an application:

  • Explaining their competencies to meet the requirements of the assignment;
  • Explaining, in detail, the proposed methodology to be used in carrying out the assignment, including sampling strategy (not just sample size but also urban, rural, age, sex disaggregation, etc.);
  • Providing the expected duration of the assignment and dates of availability; roles and competencies of core team members;
  • Providing a detailed professional budget in USD (Indicate daily professional rates and days);
  • Attaching brief technical bio data of core team members;
  • Providing evidence of similar work undertaken recently (Not more than 5 years) and references.

8.     Management Arrangement

The Evaluation Team will report to the Technical Coordinating Group under the leadership of SADC and EAC. M&E Advisors from the participating UN agencies will provide technical guidance on the evaluation and ensure independence of the evaluation process, and that policy is followed. UNESCO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, WHO, UNDP and UNICEF will manage the evaluation and provide logistical support under the overall guidance of SADC Secretariat and the East Africa Community.

Important: Upon recruitment of the successful Consultant, deliverables will be broken down based on each agency’s financial contribution. The Consultant will then enter into bilateral contractual agreements with each individual agency.


[1] Rwanda did not officially endorse the commitment. However, they have been active members of the initiative also regularly reporting on progress

[2] The methodology may vary according to country specific context, especially in light of COVID-19. For instance, FGDs may not be happening due to lockdown measures in some countries. Therefore, alternatives will have to be looked into.

We have another entry for the “Lockdown Diaries” blog series! The world has been hard hit by the Corona virus (COVID 19) in an unprecedented way so there is no better time to launch these guest bloggers to get an in-depth look at how young people from various corners of the East and Southern African region are handling quarantine, self isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. You will follow their experiences through their eyes as young people – their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows, and reflections.

Stay tuned for more stories!

Written by Nelson Uyirwoth, UGANDA

Life in a Covid-19 world

It’s Friday 20th march 2020, time check 12:00 am. My family and I are glued to the TV eagerly waiting on the Ministry of health’s national address. We are all anxious and hoping for the best from the address. Unfortunately, the Minister, Dr. Ruth Acheng broke the bad news to us that the country has registered its first COVID 19 case. Suddenly, silence ensued our worst fears had come to our motherland and our clean sheet lost.  I had just traveled back from Nairobi, Kenya, and was still monitoring my health for any possible exposure to the dreaded coronavirus via the airport. Then, boom I switched into panic mode even though  I had not experienced any symptoms. Life was no longer going to be the same since we were asked to adopt the stay-home policy to flatten the curve.

Staying home was no problem for me as I was eager to have all the sleep I had longed for and enough time with my family. This also came along with other benefits such as no more squander expenditure on transport, night outs and the lavish restaurant meals. But, alas, it also came along with getting used to taking breakfast and lunch late, getting used to life without free Wi-Fi, doing some of the house chores, and working from home.

Talking of working from home, this is quite hard yet underestimated. My employer instructed us to start doing all operations from home with immediate effect. Lucky for us we had a business continuity plan in place which has guided us on what critical business functions need extra attention during this period. Because of COVID 19, I  no longer enjoy the cool workplace lunch and the aura of being in a work environment. My life is now stuck into weekly zoom meetings and weekly activity reports. Let’s all face it, human productivity at home is quite minimal compared to the office space and managers are now facing it hard to keep their teams motivated. The uncertainty is high and the news reports on multiplying cases just add salt to the wound. My personal advice is, do not consume multiple news reports in intervals but however watch the major bulletins at least twice a day to tame the anxiety.

Two weeks into the lockdown, sleep is no longer a dream, each day looks like a weekend. My phone is my close pal always keeping me engaged and glued to my social media platforms. The side effects of the lockdown are starting to unravel   Laziness has seized me yet I have quite a workload on my computer and various books I had prepared to read during this period. My small clothing business is no longer operational and my salary is threatened by a pay cut.

I really need all the motivation I can get during this period to keep me going  So I opt to watch various motivational videos on YouTube by Goalcast. These greatly opened my thinking and vision beyond the uncertainty that had consumed me. I have a personal vision book where I write all my plans for the New Year and the future. I often look at it and tick off whatever accomplishment I make in life.  Well, the current pandemic was unexpected but it is not going to deviate me from the big picture. I have drafted a personal daily work schedule that guides me through the lockdown.  One of the major adjustments I have made is never to wake up late anymore since most of my days were unproductive due to the vice.  Ashna Kaur Mehta once said “When you wake up late the day goes to waste so why not get up quickly and see the progress so swiftly.” I have embraced the new way of life and I hope to overcome it.

The pandemic and the lockdown is a great time to reflect on our lives, what careers we are pursuing as young people? Will you be an essential part of society in the future? Are you saving and investing in essential sectors that can withstand future global threats? Remember, time is the major asset that each one of us has and how we spend it will determine our course of life.

Stay safe, wash your hands and pray.

We have another entry for the “Lockdown Diaries” blog series! The world has been hard hit by the Corona virus (COVID 19) in an unprecedented way so there is no better time to launch these guest bloggers to get an in-depth look at how young people from various corners of the East and Southern African region are handling quarantine, self isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. You will follow their experiences through their eyes as young people – their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows, and reflections.

Stay tuned for more stories!

Written by Kelvin Kinuthia W. Kenya

What does the future hold? That’s a simple question that lingers in every young person’s mind. A question that acts as a drive in their day to day lives as they accomplish their ambitions. That being said, it is noteworthy that the hope for a better future is key to the productivity of the population. As simple as sounds  the question, ‘what does the future hold?’ the mystery behind it makes things more complicated. Especially during this COVID 19 pandemic period as it eats up into the mental health of all persons globally. The ramifications as we’ve witnessed in my community  witnessed are an increase in the rates of depression and anxiety cases. The worst case scenarios being a number of suicides and Gender Based Violence. The vulnerable cohort has been adversely affected, more so the disabled as ways to get basic needs and reliable information on COVID 19 keep shrinking. A heartbreaking increase in the number of teenage pregnancies has also been reported. When all this is fired up by the jobs lost, poverty and dreams lost the hope for a better future seems like a fairy tale.

With all these challenges facing my community, my schedule has been a beehive of activities aimed at reviving the much needed hope that appears to be lost. A description of my single day pretty much summarizes my life during this pandemic. As a trending saying goes, ‘every day is every day.’ Weird to say, but my everyday schedule is dubbed #MentalHealthCheckList.

My day starts at 5 AM. I am a member of the 5 AM club and have over the time managed to influence a number of young people from our estate to join. Our first hour of the day is composed of vigorous exercises and meditation. We do this together to act as each other’s accountability partner. Of course we observe the guidelines provided to prevent COVID 19 infection. We wash our hands, maintain distance and put on our masks. We take this time also to share our experiences during this pandemic. The 5 Am club has grown to be a well-functioning support group.

The remaining part of my morning is personal, to relax and carry out some chores. This is the time I use to exploit my God given talent to create content that creates awareness, educates and entertains on various life aspects especially mental health and COVID 19. The content is purposed to be posted on my social media platforms where I’ve built a brand as an actor, Viner , comedian and graphic designer. This therefore involves rigorous script writing, filming, creation of posters and video editing.

The actual sensitization happens in the afternoon as I post content on my social media platforms (inclusive of FB, Youtube, Instagram, TikTok and twitter. I then engage in the conversations being carried out by various organizations on the said social media platforms. I’ve grown fond of these discussions as I get a chance to share my ideas and also learn.

I and a team of young people from various Kenyan Universities also take time to lead such discussions on a health app dubbed RADA App. RADA App is health mobile app that we developed in conjunction with University of Nairobi and UNESCO. We extend our discussions to Facebook, Twitter and Watsap where we’ve built a community of young people and professionals ready to be activists of whatever  challenge that affects the society. The discussions have proved to be fruitful as young people are more aware of how to stay safe from COVID 19 and handle their mental health. One strategy that has proved useful is where we come up with thematic hashtags and raise dialogues around them. Our main areas of focus are COVID 19, mental health, Sexual and reproductive health, Gender Based Violence, nutrition among others. We’re champions for spreading reliable information from trusted sources on COVID 19.

Evening’s in the African culture are believed to be family time, especially currently as the Kenyan government has imposed a mandatory curfew from 7:00 pm. I took this positively and decided to not only spend time with my family, but also try expand the family. Evening’s for me therefore are spent establishing more personal conversations and interactions. ZOOM has proved a resourceful digital tool in this. I pass my sincere gratitude to the various organisations and professionals that have partnered with us in coming up with the themes of these discussions and moderate them. As a famous saying goes, ‘A problem shared is half solved.

I would therefore with sincere appreciation say that averagely I reach out to more than 2000 young people every day.

These comes with its challenges though. The most relatable one is waking up in the morning. It’s the rainy season and so the thought of waking up sometimes can be unbearable. However, just like I had stated earlier, we have accountability partners.

Moreover, reaching out to young people online is challenging since DATA for internet is expensive. To  add salt to the injury,  a limited number of young people have smart devices. We are therefore aware that as we sensitize there is a percentage of young people left out. This affects us also as the internet is not so strong from our area of operation and therefore keeps buffering  as we hold discussions. This sometimes lead to delay in between discussions which is disorderly and tiring. We are looking into our strategy to see how we can reach them.

Lastly as much as I use social media with good intentions, it can prove detrimental to my health. Addiction to social media is a potential threat to my mental health and well being. I therefore have to look for ways to moderate my exposure, which proves  hard since I strongly feel that the world needs me more than ever. I need to put myself out there and support young people in realizing that the future is as bright as we want it to be.

I call upon every young person to use every means available to reach out and offer a hand to a vulnerable soul. Together we can make through this. Together we can figure out what really it is that the future holds.

Lots of Love.

We have another entry for the “Lockdown Diaries” blog series! The world has been hard hit by the Corona virus (COVID 19) in an unprecedented way so there is no better time to launch these guest bloggers to get an in-depth look at how young people from various corners of the East and Southern African region are handling quarantine, self isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. You will follow their experiences through their eyes as young people – their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows, and reflections.

Stay tuned for more stories!

Written by Wongani Mwasinga, Malawi

It was the no shaking hands rule that grabbed most of my attention to this disease as I thought of how Malawians will cope with this rule with their love of handshakes as a form of greeting. I did not put much thought into COVID-19 for I did not see any future of it reaching Africa or Malawi to be specific even though quarantine was called. The disease spread faster like it was cancerous and before I knew it it had hit Zambia that Is when i finally realized that Malawi was next in line.

Even though I fully understood that life in quarantine means that the progression of the disease will be reduced and the number of newly found cases will drop as people are being more careful by exercising all the rules necessary, still the idea of it wasn’t my best cup of tea. Despite my hate for quarantine it has worked to my advantage as well as my fellow Malawians because there is no more overcrowding in public places in my country which has led to a better way of preventing the disease.

As a final year student, life in quarantine has been devastating especially for my fellow students and I in a way that it has caused closure of schools with no notified time of resumption of studies. The delay in resuming of studies will cause me to lose focus on studies as studying is now replaced with household chores. This is causing boredom because I have been delayed in finishing school as quarantine has caused a change in the school’s academic calendar.

This set back in my studies has not only affected me alone but it has also taken a torn on my parents, since they had a clear picture that their daughter will be finishing school very soon and now the picture is no longer there. Despite school being my center of concern, C0VID-19 has brought about anxiety in my family in a sense that once one family member leaves the house there is always fear of him or her being infected with the virus. It has also been hard for my family to adapt to the new form of living standards as we were used to church on Sundays and now not going to church every Sunday has been a battle for us.

Despite Covid-19 affecting my life both positively and negatively, I have learned a lot of things about myself in this quarantine period as I had to look at the brighter side of this situation. Firstly, this situation has taught me to believe in myself by using this ample time to catch up on academic areas that I was unable to grasps during lectures. This has also helped me to start living healthily through daily exercise routines that have helped me to be more disciplined and patient in following the routines. Despite the fact that COVID-19 has caused countless of deaths in most countries of the world at large, it is still important to exercise the rules required such as washing hands with soap at all times, use of hand sanitizer as some of the measures to prevent the spread and contracting of the virus.

1. INTRODUCTION

Over the last decade, countries in the East and Southern African (ESA) region have taken major strides towards the development and incorporation of life skills education (LSE) and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in their school curricula. These strides have been made to counter the threat of HIV and other STIs; help protect girls against early and unintended pregnancy; provide young people with the necessary skills to develop effective decision-making and communication skills; explore values and attitudes and raise awareness of risk reduction skills.

Evidence shows that effective comprehensive sexuality education programmes consistently increase student knowledge about HIV and other health issues, delay age of sexual debut, and increase use of contraception including condoms by young people. Effective HIV and sexuality education requires the capacity and guidance of highly skilled and motivated educators. The International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (UNESCO, 2018) argues, for example, that these teachers need appropriate training, skills in the use of participatory methods and ongoing support. The UNFPA Operational Guidance for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Focus on Human Rights and Gender (2014) articulates that effective CSE calls for an explicit mainstreaming of gender throughout all aspects of CSE and a focus on sexual and reproductive rights as components of human rights. This means that young people have a right to scientifically accurate information, bodily integrity and a right to access sexual and reproductive health services.

One of the key tasks facing Ministries of Education in the region is how to conduct effective pre-service and in-service teacher training and sustain a program of on-going in-service refresher training and mentoring. Effective training first has to have an impact on the teachers themselves, helping them examine their own attitudes toward sexuality, gender and behaviors regarding HIV prevention. They need to understand the content they are teaching, learn participatory teaching skills, and gain confidence to discuss sensitive and controversial topics in a non-judgmental and rights-based manner. Teacher training needs the support of national ministries, local school management, and local communities. It should also build on teacher training efforts for countries implementing a Life Skills curriculum as interactive teaching methods are essential for Comprehensive Sexuality Education. Teachers need support after the initial training and need to be willing and motivated to teach reproductive health and HIV issues. Teacher training should emphasize the need for a safe and appropriate learning environment, which reflects the learning content. This would include gender equality in the school environment and a policy of zero tolerance for sexual exploitation of students.

School settings provide an important opportunity to reach large numbers of young people with sexuality education before they become sexually active, as well as offering an appropriate structure within which to do so systematically over time. Teachers remain central to the process given their critical role in delivering sexuality education and with the right knowledge, skills and comfort levels for effectively delivery of sexuality education help to ensure that learners receive accurate and age- appropriate information. This information guides the learners through adolescence and enables them to make responsible decisions that impact their current and future sexual and reproductive health and overall well-being.

2. ABOUT THE CURRENT COURSE

As part of the ESA Ministerial Commitment for scaling up Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in the region, UNESCO, UNFPA, Johns Hopkins University/HC3 and the Foundation for Professional Development collaborated to design and implement an in-service teacher training course on sexuality education. Ministries of education from across 21 ESA countries and the SADC and EAC Secretariats are key partners in the course. The online course is currently hosted and implemented by the Foundation for Professional Development (FPD) and Medical Practice Consulting (MPC) under the leadership of FPD.

This online training course on sexuality education was designed for teachers in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region who have the responsibility for teaching Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) to learners. Specifically, the online course was created to contribute to the following regional outcomes:

  • Increased number of teachers in the Eastern and Southern Africa Region who are qualified to teach sexuality education;
  • Strengthened capacity of ministries of education to provide education and training for teachers to teach sexuality and HIV education lessons in the classrooms;
  • Improved quality of school-based sexuality and HIV education programs – evidence informed and effective to reduce risky behaviours amongst school-going youth; and
  • Improved learner knowledge and health-seeking behaviours for sexual and reproductive health and rights achievement and related life skills.

This online course was developed as an accessible resource to support the training of teachers and other educators to deliver school-based sexuality education in East and Southern Africa. For many countries in the ESA region, the capacity and performance of teachers in delivering comprehensive sexuality curricula remains a significant implementation challenge. Sexuality-related topics can be culturally and religiously sensitive. Teachers may live and work in areas that require a great deal of travel and resources in order to obtain professional development and support. If teachers are to empower the young people in their care with the potentially life-saving knowledge, they will need to be competent and comfortable to deliver the information that life skills based comprehensive sexuality education offers. The course was created online to be as accessible to as many educators in the ESA region as possible.

2.1 Current course modalities

Initially, the course was administered mainly through distance learning, where teachers could take in in the comfort of their environment. But as the course was rolled out, it became clear that completion rates were significantly low, and teachers faced challenges such as lack of access to computers and internet. The modality was then tweaked, and teachers would be asked to convene in person at one place, go through some value clarification, be provided with computers and internet, be assisted with registering for the course, and also be given an opportunity for teach-backs. Currently, the course consists of three main learning components, namely the face to face component, the distance learning, and the mentorship and support supervision component

2.2 Who is this course for?

This course targets teachers and other educators across Eastern and Southern Africa who need to obtain or update their knowledge and related skills on comprehensive sexuality education, and who are actively involved or intend to be involved in the delivery of sexuality education in the region. It will also be made available for other professionals such health services providers, who require adequate SRHR knowledge to perform their job.

2.3 The overall course goal

The overall course goal is to support effective implementation of life skills based/life orientation curriculum by equipping teachers with knowledge and skills related to the delivery of age appropriate, human rights and gender-based-comprehensive sexuality education in schools through the use of ICT.

  1. Course objectives

By the end of the online course, the teachers and educators should be able to:

  • Provide accurate information and knowledge on sexuality education, its importance and benefits;
  • Acknowledge how personal values, beliefs, biases can influence the teaching of sexuality education and the importance of not asserting one’s beliefs and biases onto learners;
  • Use the knowledge and skills acquired to deliver an effective life skills-based sexuality education in participatory, culturally sensitive and age-appropriate ways; and
  • Demonstrate the willingness to teach on different CSE-related content.

2.5 Course duration

The online course can be accomplished in about 40 hours depending on the pace of the participant which is an equivalent of 4 -5 days. Participants are however not allowed to undertake the course for more than 3 months from the time they have been enrolled on the course.

3. RATIONALE FOR REVISING THE COURSE

Two reviews commissioned by UNESCO revealed some gaps in both the content and the design of the course. It is based on the findings of the reviews that a revision of both content and design is required. Below are the main recommendations from the aforementioned reviews:

  1. Course Content Gaps
  1. There is a need to focus on topics such as gender discrimination, sexual and gender-based violence, HIV and AIDS, and harmful traditional practices. As with all curricula, CSE must be delivered in accordance with national laws and policies.
  2. The significance of peer pressure in adolescents’ lives needs to be strengthened as it influences adolescents behaviour.
  3. Gendering of behaviour and disability, and how these impact on body image and relationships is necessary
  4. Coon body image and sexuality needs to be strengthened
  5. Expansion of relationships beyond intimate relationships focusing on family and other societal relationships in life as it relates or links to adolescents’ sexuality education curricula
  6. Adolescents rights, values and responsibilities to be strengthened in the course content.

3.2 Course Design Gaps

  1. The course needs to outline the prerequisite skills and tools for the targeted audience of the course.
  2. The design of the course needs to be in sync with the pedagogical approaches to be used in the facilitation of the course in the blended learning environment
  3. Revision of course content to ensure that it is creative and engaging ensuring content is broken down into manageable multimedia
  4. Knowledge shares feature to be strengthened to ensure that it allows for deeper reflection in the learning process

The above gaps identified from content and course design perspectives make it critical that the current course content be reviewed to strengthen the CSE online course. This process will require that the consultant (subject expert) continuously liaises with the IT expert developing the online platform. This will facilitate the seamless content and online LMS for effective learning. The revision of the online CSE content will further allow for upgrading the course content, assessments and learning methodologies to ensure that the course can be accredited.

4. ABOUT THIS ASSIGNMENT

This assignment is building on the work of the UNESCO and UNFPA on the existing online course on CSE, and a lot of work that has been done on teacher training in the region; not least among them, the development of a regional in-person teacher training manual and resource pack. Recognizing the importance of well-trained teachers in the effective delivery of sexuality education at classroom level the UN partners wish to update the current online CSE course to incorporate new knowledge and evidence, and utilization of recently developed resources. The partners wish to strengthen the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education curricula through a confident and well-trained teaching force through high quality pre and in-service training programme.

UNESCO and UNFPA are seeking a qualified consultant to work with a UN recruited IT consultant and update the existing content of the CSE online course. Specifically, the consultant shall:

  1. Update the existing in-service training course on comprehensive sexuality education that draws on the revised International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education(ITGSE), and the in-person teacher training manual, among other resources;
  2. Develop course content that can be converted into an online course and prepare the appropriate support materials.
  3. In liaison with the IT expert, the consultant shall:

  • come up with learning objectives, instructional methods and activities, storyboards, content, subject matter knowledge, lesson outlines structure and flow, and media assets. down the content into timed sessions and activities to be uploaded on the online learning platform
  • provide guidance to the IT expert on balancing the course between taking an asynchronous learning and synchronous learning approaches to allow for cohorts that give motivation to the learners and ensuring interactivity.
  • Transform the course content presented in large text form to ensure that it is more interactive
  • devise means of presenting critical content on the learning platform and avoid or reduce on too many outward links for the learners.
  1. Develop learning and assessment activities that adequately access learners’ level of understanding of the course content and the ability to apply learned concepts. The assessments should meet the mini standards that allow for CSE online course accreditation in the different countries where the course will be offered.
  1. Recommend quality sources of information to use and pedagogy to support learning activities, the duration and sequence of the activities, technology or technologies for the electronic and online activities, and other tools required for non-electronic activities.

5. DELIVERABLES

  • An Inception report capturing the CSE online course outline, expanded activities and deliverables of this assignment.
  • Course curriculum and content, which include learning activities, assessments and relevant resource materials; and an indication of required teaching aids such as videos.
  • Process report on the consultant’s responsibilities to provide content guidance to the IT expert on five items outlined above.
  • A report compiling course assessments that are in-line with key competencies required in the accreditation process for the defined level of accreditation.

6. HOW TO APPLY

To apply, send your CV, an outline showing similar assignments successfully completed, a breakdown

of fees and timelines for the assignment to d.cheta@unesco.org by 29 May 2020.

We have another entry for the “Lockdown Diaries” blog series! The world has been hard hit by the Corona virus (COVID 19) in an unprecedented way so there is no better time to launch these guest bloggers to get an in-depth look at how young people from various corners of the East and Southern African region are handling quarantine, self isolation, social distancing and other preventative measures. You will follow their experiences through their eyes as young people – their thoughts, feelings, highs and lows, and reflections.

Stay tuned for more stories!

Written by Mark Chris Kayizzi, Peer Educator with Reach a Hand Uganda

Many unwritten rules are deeply rooted in Uganda’s diverse culture and these account for what is considered the acceptable code of conduct. Collective approval is very important to many and on several occasions responsible for one’s persona. For many youths, a different social circle always calls for a different representation of personality, some more than others.

Majority of young people’s social life in the Ugandan setting is accounted for in peer circles; much of a young person’s time is spent in a school setting, with a structure of 7, 6 and 3 to 5 years in primary, secondary and post-secondary school respectively. In my time in school; I spent over 75% of day time in this structure. A cycle of class from 8 am to 4:40 pm for primary and secondary level, but it was worthwhile, because I got to spend it with peers. There are a number of changes at post-secondary levels but all in all, almost all youth lifetime is spent in contact with peers.

With limited interaction with parents or older guardians, one may suggest that youth behavior and lifestyle is largely shaped through peer social learning. During this time bonds are created, experiences shared, knowledge and information are transmitted in these small circles of trust, but what happens when these circles/routines are broken? If quickly surveyed very few youths can easily confide in their parents or guardian figures with matters regarding their sexual reproductive health or rights and even matters of life choices in general.

Almost abruptly, many youths have been placed into new routines as a result of the lockdown. This has not only affected our social intimacies, but I have also come to develop a very cordial relationship for my laptop, discovered I can spend countless hours staring a screen as much as I can spend the same time writing something or jogging my mind, for many others their “laptop relationship” may be different by many of the lockdown activities do surely rotate around technology, it may actually hide us from the world more than it connects us to the world and why not, the lock-down as a result of the Novel Coronavirus COVID-19, is a blessing and a curse.

A Curse!

Many parents are “rigid”, true to the norms and usually quick to dismiss young people’s claims to sexual or Reproductive rights to services and most especially to correct and relevant information, some are simply shy to talk while others do not think it is necessary to discuss such matters and would rather stick to conversations on economic development, academic excellence or just the recurring presidential addresses, with no readily available listening ears most youths have and at a verge of a mental breakdown once in a while, picture a young person suffering a urinary tract infection, but is not able to share openly to their one provider of financial support to seek healthcare because it will be thought that the disease is as a result of sexual transmission, I place this at the forefront because the aspects of life and lifestyle presented by Sexual Reproductive health and Rights as a concept of human rights are capable of shaping behavior and building a harmonious relationship between traditional culture and youth culture.

I have personally sat/laydown for countless hours on some days with my mind heavy with nothing but a question “what next?” I am certain many youths in the post-secondary school stage of their lives have had the same run through their minds because it’s an always recurring question in conversation among youth peers. With a dependency ratio in the country being about 103 per 100 working-age adults according to United Nations Population Fund fact sheets on Ugandan youth and high unemployment rates among youth, not because of low qualifications but simply lack opportunities, the lockdown has seen through a significant breakdown in some industries, mainly trade which is one most taken backup plans.

The lockdown has contributed a noteworthy influence communication gap in families despite being closer to each other physically, different mind spaces and priorities exist for the different members of families, for interpersonal communication to work it is vital that parties are discussing and concentrating on the same topic at a time only then can they both listen, however as a young person worries about their graduation timeline, many family heads are worried about the next meal and how they may catch up with the development setbacks, this affects the holistic state of minds in individuals and undermines the role of families in creating support systems

A Blessing!

Physical availability is one of the best ways to mend bonds, learn and unlearn, and for the lockdown, it means a chance to strike a balance between traditional norms and the modern-day youth values, the youth these days require that they make choices on their own and are allowed space for mistake, social norms are much easier to agree on if two different generations understand the importance attached to them by one another, with physical availability, widespread information sources, and sharing, myth-busting mostly in regards to SRHR is much easier, the lockdown hence provides that opportunity in the form of abundance in time.

For me and a couple of friends, this has been a time for self-reflection, goal setting and self-realization, the once full plate of social events, school programs, being socially absorbed is all now replaced with online chats, movie days, or sleep in days. The lockdown has provided an opportunity for us to realize our values and norms, outside the social bubble, we realize what choices we want to make, where we want to be and where we would like to restructure if possible.

Throughout the lockdown, I have appreciated the problem-solving capabilities of the human race, there has been a large victory in technology innovations all to make the digital space our new reality and keep up with work schedules and deadlines, many companies have had the chance through experience to appreciate technology as part of the future and a necessity.

Time in the lockdown and the pandemic has come with very many lessons,  however the main take away as a country is a chance to appreciate that most diseases are preventable and most diseases are preventable through basic proper hygiene and lifestyle choices, we also see the importance of social cooperation in epidemic, pandemic and endemic response, proper containment of the COVID -19 pandemic has involved a large structure, and this same structure can be used in the fight against the main endemic diseases in the country, with collective social efforts and better health systems.

Let us stay safe and follow the health guidelines, for health is the most true wealth.