‘I used to be self-conscious and hesitant most of the time, but the communication skills that I have acquired from the EDGE club have given me the confidence to speak for myself’
Runa Akter – Peer Group Leader from Radhagonj, Bangladesh
2016 to present
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Pakistan
Nepal: Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), Voluntary Service Overseas; Bangladesh: BRAC, HSBC, India: Naandi Foundation, Digital Empowerment Foundation; Pakistan: Idara-e-Taleem-o-Aagahi
To improve life prospects for 13- to 19-year-old girls in marginalised communities in South Asia, by developing English confidence and proficiency and digital literacy, social skills and awareness of rights.
In South Asia gender inequality is starkly evident through the high numbers of out-of-school girls and prevalence of child marriage, especially in marginalised communities. Girls often have less access to information, education and technology compared to their male peers. The English and Digital for Girls’ Education (EDGE) project addresses these challenges by enhancing participants’ English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues. Through this, we aim to be a partner of choice in South Asia for English skill development and women's empowerment.
EDGE is currently running full projects in Pakistan, Nepal and Bangladesh. We work with local organisations either as funding or delivery partners that are key to the success of the project such as DNET and Spreeha in Bangladesh and ITA in Pakistan. Core project activities include providing adolescent girls with opportunities to develop their English proficiency, digital skills and awareness of social issues in peer-led after-school clubs. Developing the capacity of Peer Group Leaders (PGLs) to facilitate English and digital training is a key component. We are also helping to build trust within communities, changing perceptions through community engagement events. In 2021 scoping studies were been completed in 11 countries outside of South Asia to explore opportunities to expand EDGE into new contexts.
As a result of EDGE project activities, adolescent girls will be better able to make more informed and independent life choices to better contribute socially and economically. The project has so far reached over 14,000 girls who have attended EDGE clubs. 1,400 PGLs have been trained, 17,000 parents, community leaders and employers have attended ICT fairs and 330 hours of materials have been developed to provide access to English and digital skills as well as raise awareness of social issues.
Data from EDGE club participants show that after completing two-thirds of the programme they demonstrate significant improvement in English language speaking ability and progression from no computer knowledge to being able to perform basic tasks on computers, using MS office and the internet. The peer group learning model has also given the girls improved levels of confidence and self-esteem, and more awareness of social issues that affect their communities.
EDGE contributes to our strategic priorities in South Asia, with a focus on improving educational and economic opportunities for young people, especially girls. All in-country programmes work closely with local organisations to gain greater insight into community needs. In addition, EDGE has partnered with UK organisations that have showcased expertise in monitoring, evaluation, gender equality and research skills including the University of Leeds, Winning Moves, Research Base, EMC Design and Macmillan publishers. By partnering with us, they have also gained new skills and expertise, expanded into new areas and gained insights into delivering high-quality education programmes in remote and low resource environments.