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This is the first report of a series of three evaluations of the Building Skills for Life (BS4L) programme, entirely led by children. The BS4L programme takes a life-cycle approach in considering the challenges girls face in adolescence and aims to increase enrolment and retention in lower secondary education by tackling attitudes towards education, quality of teaching, gender norms, violence in and around school and lack of knowledge of SRHR. Teams of five girls and five boys, all beneficiaries of the programme, selected evaluation questions, collected and analysed data in order to deliver an assessment of the programme’s results, effectiveness, efficiency, sustainability, relevance and equity. Tasked to deliver an evidence- based assessment of the difference made by the programme and the likelihood that such changes would persist beyond the life of the programme, the adolescents assembled and interpreted evidence of changes in empowerment, attitudes and norms. Empowered to critique the programme’s theory of change, the adolescents highlighted issues important for keeping girls and boys in school and validated their theories with their peers and parents bringing to the surface some fascinating differences in opinions and priorities. Making use of specifically designed rubrics and visual exercises children were able to deliver nuanced assessments capable of enhancing our understanding of the programme and contribute to enhancing the quality of our work.
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