Locally known as Vumbua Kujifunza, Discover Learning was designed as an after school intervention for 10-11-year-old boys and girls in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania to promote gender equality, positive relationships and social, emotional and identity learning (SEIL). This project evolved from a Gates-funded project with older adolescents, (15–19-year-olds) where we identified opportunities for prevention in this younger age group, before the emergence of negative SRH outcomes.

Discover Learning used a phased implementation approach to allow for learning and adaptation during testing of a scalable, developmentally informed intervention. The overall goal was to leverage insights from developmental science to enhance the impact of scalable interventions that facilitate healthy social and identity development leading to better health, well-being, gender equity and SRH outcomes.
How was Discover Learning implemented?

Sixty students aged 10-11 years participated in 12, 2-hour sessions over 4 weeks guided by trained and compensated adult facilitators. Each session consisted of a technology component, a teambuilding activity, a lifepath session, and reflection. Videos, created by Ubongo Kids with content focused on curiosity, growth mindset, persistence, and purpose, were shown once a week and woven into the lifepath activities. The technology component was a laptop-based collaborative learning game that involved pair work to problem-solve puzzles. Trained facilitators were given a session plan scripted to guide activities, discussions, and reflections. A reflective discussion was conducted after every activity to encourage learners to reflect on their process and how it relates to their life and future.

How did Developmental Science inform design and implementation of Discover Learning?
The content used for Discover Learning focused on key character traits that were identified to contribute to precursors of health and well-being. Teaching these character traits during this window can provide an opportunity for VYAs to learn about themselves, their values, and their social world and how to interact with it. These are:        

During the sessions, facilitators identified opportunities to address gender attitudes and encourage participants to take up activities that were traditionally seen as of the opposite gender.

Participants were encouraged to see themselves as someone who can develop and improve their abilities and who could achieve anything if they changed their perspective.


Activities were designed to encourage participants to ask questions, pursue their interests and engage in open-ended exploration such as exploring places of learning through community mapping.


Activities such as life mapping (developing a map of their future) and career fairs with professionals aimed to help participants discover and find long-term goals that gives them a personally meaningful life.


During the challenging activities, participants were encouraged not to give up, keep trying and focus on the overall goal of the activity. Persistence helped to shape motivation and focus to achieve a goal.


Participants were encouraged to help and support each other during activities, recognize each other’s contributions and thank each other during the reflection session. Generosity can help young people make connections, new friendships, and support networks.


Results and Impact of Discover Learning

The study was replicated with a larger sample size with 3 groups that had different variables of practice of the content to better understand and assess the added value that a certain component or activity might provide in contributing to positive health and well-being outcomes in VYAs. The three intervention groups were:

 A mixed-methods approach was used to capture perspectives from youth, parents, and community members.  Measures of proximal attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors were collected relevant to identity, learning, and social relationships important to developmental trajectories contributing to positive well-being and outcomes.  For example, constructs under “Identity” include measures of: gender norms and attitudes, purpose and meaning, growth mindset; “Learning” include: curiosity, collaborative learning and teamwork, and persistence; “Social relationships” include: helping behavior and generosity, bullying prevention, improved gender equality, and positive peer relationships.

The results showed that Discover Learning Group C was found to be more effective than the videos alone (Group A) and the videos with the self-guided activities, discussions, and reflections in mixed-gender groups (Group B). Measures of gender norms, attitudes and behaviors also indicated improvements towards more equitable outcomes in all three intervention groups.
Read more on Vumbua Kujifunza ,
Community event at Sokoine Primary School
Vumbua children at Lioness Miburani Primary School enjoying a team building game

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