Resilience training changes lives
Resilience is not an innate talent or quality. It’s the result of skills and healthy behaviours that can be taught in even the most difficult circumstances. Skills that have been proven to help young people stay in school, face challenges, overcome societal barriers and thrive rather than merely survive in the face of adversity. Youth First Rwanda is a programme designed by CorStone to improve the mental and physical well-being and education-related outcomes of lower secondary school students. Upon completion of a 5-school pilot to fine-tune and contextualize the standard curriculum, the program will formally launch in September 2021 in 50 schools in five districts across Rwanda. We’re supporting this crucial phase in which CorStone aims to train 350 teachers to facilitate resilience sessions and progressively build tangible resilience skills in 7,500 young students.
Rwanda is emerging as a model for development in Africa with its growing middle class and reputation for fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. Recent data, however, reveal that teenage pregnancy, gender-based violence, drug use, school dropout, underemployment and suicide rates are rising in Rwandan youth.
In at-risk youth, assets such as self-confidence, self-efficacy, optimism, persistence, assertive communication and problem-solving skills are among the most important factors in overcoming obstacles.
Youth First Rwanda is a programme designed to improve the psychological, social-emotional and physical wellbeing of lower secondary school students, primarily aged 13-15. CorStone has partnered with Inspire, Empower, Educate Rwanda to implement the program across the country in collaboration with the Rwanda Education Board. Drawing from positive psychology, social-emotional learning and conflict resolution, this evidence-based programme trains and supports schoolteachers to facilitate student resilience sessions and teaches students throughout one academic year to better understand their own emotions and strengths, and to improve their abilities to communicate, solve problems, resolve conflicts and set and achieve goals. Youth First also focuses on developing students’ health knowledge to help them understand the changes that are taking place in their bodies, overcome stereotypes and gender biases and take care of their bodies.
Youth First Rwanda is currently being implemented in a small number of pilot schools in Kigali with the goal of scaling it up to 50 schools in five districts across Rwanda over the next two years.
We’re specifically supporting CorStone in the crucial adaptation, contextualisation and evaluation phase of the programme’s replication, which aims to train 350 teachers to facilitate resilience sessions and progressively build tangible resilience skills in 7,500 young students by 2022.
The results of similar CorStone programmes in India and Kenya have demonstrated improved emotional resilience, self-agency, health knowledge, gender equality attitudes, self-efficacy, communication and problem-solving skills. Evidence also suggests resilience sessions increase youth aspirations and confidence to complete their education, delay marriage and childbirth, and achieve career and other life goals.
Working in partnership with the Ministry of Education and the Rwanda Education Board, CorStone aims to institutionalize Youth First Rwanda as a vital component of lower secondary education across the country. It aims to reach no less than 30,000 students per year (50% of the total) in 250 state schools across all 30 districts in Rwanda by the end of 2024.
Youth First Rwanda has the potential to offer a scalable model for integration in schools that can empower more youth with an understanding of how to live a flourishing life, no matter what challenges come their way.