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SAGE - Supporting Adolescent Girls' Education

Principal Investigator:  Prof Liz Chamberlain, Dr Alison Buckler & Steve Harrison 
Co-investigators: Dr Faith Mkwananzi, Emeritus Professor Robert McCormick, Obert Chigodora, Tafadzwa Mhou, Sylvester Runyanga, Bertina Nyamutswa and Charlotte Chishava
Consortium Partners: Plan International UK (Consortium Lead), Plan International Zimbabwe, The Open University, Christian Blind Mission, Apostolic Women Empowerment Trust (AWET), ECONET 
Focus Country: Zimbabwe 
Dates: 2018 – 2023 (ongoing)

For many girls and young women in the world, and particularly those in the most fragile states, access to education is underpinned by pervasive gender inequality and discussion of their aspirations, their futures, and potential pathways into imagined futures remains limited. Yet, education has massive transformational power, with gender-transformative education aiming to empower stakeholders – learners, teachers, communities and policymakers – to examine, challenge, and change the harmful gender norms that disadvantage girls and women.

Supporting girls and young women to return to learning requires new approaches. Involving girls and young women and finding authentic ways to represent their hopes for the future has been a key driver in the learning design and implementation of the Supporting Adolescent Girls’ Education (SAGE) learning programme in Zimbabwe – a five-year project funded by UK aid through the Girls’ Education Challenge. The two-year SAGE accelerated learning programme is enabling over 13,000 out-of-school adolescent girls and women to acquire foundational skills in literacy, numeracy and English and to transition back into education, or onto training and/or employment.

To contribute to the global debates about community-based learning and the promotion of contextualised, appropriate and alternative pathways that better suit the needs of girls and young women, the OU SAGE team have been exploring three distinct but connected research strands.  The learnings cover four main themes: 

  • How we know the programme works
  • Girls' aspirations for their education and futures
  • What is working in community education
  • Learning about learning

Our co-authored research and learning outputs are intended to support practitioners, inform policymakers and contribute to wider academic debates about non-formal education, gender-responsive education, and what is working in community education. For more information, you can access our outputs and the project’s Endline Evaluation and Executive Summary

The project’s Endline report (launched in June 2023) evidences that SAGE has effectively improved girls’ foundational learning levels. More than 75% of SAGE learners have improved their literacy and numeracy scores, with an average SAGE learner showing 3 to 4-grade levels of improvement in their foundational literacy and numeracy skills to achieve Grade 5 proficiency.  The project has effectively delivered inclusive, learner-centred, gender-responsive instruction, which contributed to learning improvements and girls’ satisfaction with their learning experience.  

To date, the programme has supported more than 13,400 out-of-school, highly marginalised adolescent girls in 11 districts in Zimbabwe to improve their learning outcomes and assist their transition into formal education, vocational training, or employment.

Access the SAGE comprehensive set of resources is freely available. All the materials are Open Educational Resources (OER), and with the exception of named third-party contributions, can be adapted for your own educational context.

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