British Council Pakistan EDGE Pilot

British Council recently completed the pilot stage of the EDGE programme in Pakistan.EDGE has been running for several years across British Council globally and operates in Bangladesh, Nepal, India and Afghanistan in South Asia. In Pakistan, British Council is hoping to upscale the pilot in South Punjab and expand the project to other parts of the country.

The purpose of this programme is to improve the life prospects of adolescent girls in socio-economically marginalised communities. It focuses on enhancing participants’ English language and digital literacy. It also provides an opportunity for the girls to discuss social issues, building up their social awareness. As a result, they will be better able to make more informed and independent life choices, as is their right, in order to contribute more fully to the family, economy and society. In addition, the Peer Group Leaders

From December 2020 to March 2021, 300 adolescent girls in South Punjab from the Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi (ITA) Siyani Sahelian project started attending weekly EDGE clubs – safe spaces in their community where they join their friends to improve their English proficiency and digital skills. These are girls who have either dropped out of school or are at risk of dropping out and are being given the opportunity to continue with their education. Peer Group Leaders, drawn from the same communities of girls, facilitate the clubs.  Peer Group Leaders had previously volunteered to participate in a selection exercise and those successful received training and mentoring from British Council on how to manage the clubs and how to set up and facilitate the learning materials and activities. The British Council together with ITA have initially set up 20 clubs.

EDGE clubs, held in community centres, schools or even family homes, meet once or twice a week for a session that lasts between one and three hours. In each club, there are at last two Peer Group Leaders and ITA coordinators supporting peer group leaders as mentors or coaches. The girls develop English communication skills and digital skills, working through the activities together as the Peer Group Leaders provide input and guidance. During the pilot, the girls learnt simple English, basic digital literacy (in English) and internet usage including social media and online safety. In the social awareness sessions, the girls watched videos on relevant issues such as gender inequality, health, and education, and then discussed these together.

Quote from Peer Group Leader, Muzaffargarh (South Punjab): “I jumped at the opportunity to become a Peer Group Leader when the opportunity arose. This gave me a chance to train girls similar to myself in my community and also learn with them in the process. It meant more hours and additional work and also led to a major fight in my house where I was also given the threat of divorce. But in the end, I was stubborn on this and got a chance to learn various skills including digital - a dream of mine.”