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Educational outcomes are measured in the GEC through improvement of cognitive skills such as literacy and numeracy, but there is growing support for the theory that non-cognitive skills, such as self-esteem and self-confidence, are linked to improved learning and eventual life outcomes, and should be considered as an additional and complementary measure of educational outcomes. Whilst there is an expanding body of evidence in western education literature linking self-esteem to life outcomes, there is a deficit in the context of international development.
The Girls’ Education Challenge (GEC) funds 37 education projects in 18 countries in Africa and Asia. At programme inception, Coffey, the Evaluation Manager conducted a baseline evaluation that identified factors including lack of self-confidence, esteem and aspiration as the one of greatest barriers to girls’ education after poverty and school related factors. Over 90% of GEC projects have included elements aimed at building girls’ self-esteem and self-confidence.
Interventions that build self-esteem are multi-faceted and complex. At the midline there are some positive results in building self-esteem, with specific successful approaches identified as peer mentoring, the provision of role models, as well as remedial classes. In fact, a review of projects across the portfolio revealed that there are up to nine distinct approaches which contribute to developing girls’ self-esteem. We have developed a new common framework for looking at changes in self-esteem and its link to behaviours and learning. Furthermore, changes in girls’ self-esteem, we believe, are sequential and thus can be modelled, measured and to some extent predicted.