Delivering Life Skills Training

AGI Lessons Learned

Experience suggests that life skills programs should be implemented weekly over a longer duration. Frequent and regular interactions—for example, providing one lesson per week—gives learners time to reflect and practice their skills, while still maintaining motivation and enthusiasm. Implementing the training over an extended period ensures that participants have time to reflect on and practice their newly acquired skills, ideally leading to changes in attitudes and behaviors.

Project should build a supportive community environment where participants can effectively exercise their life skills. Life skills deal with sensitive issues (for instance, sexual and reproductive health) and seek to influence gender norms and create awareness around the responsibilities and rights of living in a community. It is important to familiarize families and communities with the project and to get their buy-in and consent. AGI projects held community meetings and events, including performances where trainees demonstrated their life skills through role plays.

Draw on specialized expertise when needed. If the curriculum is addressing very specific or sensitive topics, it may be important to work with local organizations to implement certain modules of the curriculum or to include expert guest speakers. In Liberia, for example, several organizations provided volunteer guest speakers on life skills topics, and guest speakers were also recruited from the project’s Private Sector Working Groups.

Projects should support life skills delivery with routine monitoring and capacity-building. As with any project component, life skills delivery should be monitored to ensure the quality of service provision and facilitators should be supported with refresher trainings. Projects should also consider evaluating the life skills program's impact. Limited evidence—particularly rigorous evidence—is available on the impact of life skills (for labor market, health and various behavioral outcomes), delivery mechanisms for teaching life skills, and a cost-benefit analysis of programs.

Projects should elect a life skills delivery model that uses a realistic view of existing project capacity and has the potential to be cost-effective and scalable in the long-run.

AGI projects used four main approaches to delivering life skills, as detailed below:

AGI Life Skills Delivery Models
Delivery Model Capacity Issues Costs and Scale Resources and Tools
In Liberia and Afghanistan, the same NGO providers were responsible for implementing both the technical skills and the life skills training. This model is appropriate if there is a local supply of private or NGO providers with experience and capacity in both areas. Integrating life skills into the technical training simplified project supervision and monitoring. Tool icon Liberia EPAG Service Provider ToR
In Haiti and Rwanda, the projects hired dedicated NGOs to deliver the life skills training. Rwanda contracted a single NGO and Haiti contracted four CBOs that were each paired with one of the four technical training centers. Hiring specialized NGOs to deliver the life skills training may be the best option in instances where technical training providers have low capacity or when working with vulnerable groups who require specialized services that technical providers are not equipped to provide. In the long run, hiring specialized NGOs to deliver life skills may be less cost-effective (with higher supervision and monitoring costs) and harder to scale compared to integrating with technical training or Training of Trainers (ToT) models, depending on the project scale and the context.

Tool icon Rwanda Life Skills ToR

Resource icon Haiti Contract with CBO

In Nepal, a psychosocial NGO conducted a ToT for the technical trainers. Each training agency nominated a trainer to attend the ToT. In the first year the NGO and the designated trainer delivered the life skills training together. In subsequent years the designated trainer delivered the life skills training on his/her own. This model is a good solution when the technical provider has interest and potential to implement life skills, but lacks expertise and experience. During the transition away from specialized support, more intensive training, capacity-building, and monitoring from the project staff is needed to ensure quality and consistency of services. Building the capacity of technical providers to deliver life skills through their existing infrastructure can be more cost-effective than implementing via separate providers in the long run. Tool icon Nepal Life Skills ToR
In South Sudan, Adolescent Girl Leaders were trained by BRAC to deliver the life skills via a ToT model. Leaders are young women (age about 18 to 30) who reside in the project communities. This model is particularly useful in low-resource settings where the supply of training is very limited and when the project has a greater emphasis on life skills and mentoring than on technical skills. Engaging community leaders as life skills facilitators requires intensive capacity-building and routine monitoring to ensure that facilitators are well-equipped to deliver quality and consistent services. This model was easy to scale and very low-cost as the adolescent leaders were paid a small stipend for their time and effort. Resource icon South Sudan Life Skills Training for Adolescent Girl Leaders

The table below summarizes some strategies and lessons learned from implementing life skills in AGI projects.

Lessons on Life Skills Implementation
Strategy Resources and Tools
Deliver life skills in spaces that are suited to the sensitive processes of building social and behavioral skills. The space should be physically safe for participants to gather in and travel to and from, and meetings should be held at convenient and safe times. The space should be a comfortable place for participants to explore life skills topics in a confidential manner. Resource icon Guidance Note on Creating and Maintaining Safe Spaces
Carefully define the characteristics of life skills facilitators based on what is appropriate in the local context and for the specific youth target group, considering characteristics like the age, sex, and desired experience of the facilitators. The AGI pilots mainly used female life skills trainers, except in Nepal where male trainers could be paired with female trainers due to female trainers’ mobility constraints.  
Familiarize facilitators with the content of the curriculum and strengthen their capacity through periodic refresher trainings. Resource icon South Sudan Life Skills Training Refresher Training
Facilitators should use interactive techniques, such as role plays, games, puzzles, and group discussions, to keep participants involved in the sessions.

Tool icon Life Skills Facilitation Tips

Resource icon Liberia EPAG Facilitator’s Tip Guide

Projects should establish facilitator codes of conduct (professionalism, respectfulness, and so on). Tool icon Life Skills Facilitator Code of Conduct
Ensure quality implementation through diligent monitoring.

Tool icon Life Skills Observation Checklist

Tool icon Life Skills Survey

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