Background: There has been increasing focus on the need to target the peripubertal window for interventions to improve positive health trajectories for sub-Saharan African youth and early adolescents (10-14 years old).
Tanzania presents as a unique study site for the following reasons: Tanzania is experiencing a rapid rate of growth, in particular with their early adolescents, but lack the infrastructure to support them. Over 44.8% of Tanzanians (approximately 15.9 million youth) are under the age of 15 years old. This youth bubble presents both challenges and opportunities for Tanzania’s future.
If Tanzania fosters a positive, productive environment for youth, it has the opportunity of maximizing the economic dividend of having an effective, young work force coupled with low dependency rates.
Methods: A mixed-method approach was used to capture the innovation process of project implementation. Qualitative methods sought to capture perspectives from youth participants, parents and caregivers, and community members. Qualitative tools included in-depth interviews, focus group discussions, observations, materials created from the intervention, and participant and facilitator observations.
The quantitative survey measures captured key outcomes in social, emotional and identity learning. Survey measures and a discrete choice experiment also measured changes in attitudes, beliefs and behaviors around gender and peer relationships.
Results: The after-school intervention was conducted with a total of 579 youth in the Temeke Municipal of Tanzania. Students were randomized at the individual level into Groups A, B, and C. Results suggest that Group B had improvements in outcomes over Group A and Group C had improvements in outcomes over both Group A and Group B. Comparison of the three primary outcome categories, 1) Identity and Emotional Development, 2) Learning and 3) Social Relationships and Development indicates that while Group A had some effect in each outcome category, Group B had more effect on outcomes in the Learning and Social Relationship and Development Category. Group C was effective in improving nearly every single outcome in all three categories. While Group B and Group C included a peer-learning component and therefore were more effective in improving social development outcomes, Group C was also the most effective at improving identity and emotional development outcomes.
Measures of gender norms, attitudes and behaviors indicated improvements towards more equitable outcomes in all three intervention groups. Results from qualitative analysis confirm the findings of the transformational impact the intervention had on gender beliefs and behaviors. Additionally, qualitative analysis indicated overwhelming support.
Additionally, qualitative analysis indicated overwhelming support for and engagement with the parent-youth workbook among caregivers.
Conclusion: Overall, the discover learning intervention improved the intended character traits among the participants. The character traits; Team work, positive gender norms, growth mindset, curiosity, purpose, persistence, generosity and UTU were selected because of their importance in social emotional learning and identity development. A discover learning tool kit is in preparation to be shared with very young adolescents programs in- country and worldwide