Most Significant Change Stories: Mapping innovative programmes to advance girls in secondary education in Africa

Nairobi, 19th November 2015 - The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) and the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) are collaborating to launch a competition from Thursday, 19th November to Sunday 31 January 2016, that seeks to identify innovative programmes that have advanced girls’ secondary education. This initiative is in tandem with ADEA’s contribution to facilitating the transformation of education and training to drive Africa’s accelerated and sustainable development, and FAWE’s mission of promoting gender equity and equality in education in Africa. 

Secondary level education is a critical stage of learning and female learners are more likely to drop out at this level than their male counterparts. According to the SADC Gender Protocol 2014 Barometer, family responsibilities, economic factors and social stereotypes undervalue girls’ education, and contribute to high dropout rates. Educated and informed girls are less likely to contract AIDS and enter into forced marriages. With secondary education, a girl can choose to delay child bearing or decide to have fewer children with the opportunity to enjoy a better quality of life. 

The girls’ experiences within a single country are different, let alone on the entire continent. Such a scenario requires a large number of different solutions to the diverse problems facing the African girl child. It is for these reasons that ADEA and FAWE have selected six African countries (Mali, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe) as hubs for this search for successful groundbreaking projects that encourage retention, access and performance of girls in secondary education. These innovations are defined as evidence based covering formal and non-formal educational programmes. Capturing these potential innovations will provide a platform for reviewing possible success stories and advance their potential scaling up. Through the Most Significant Change (MSC) story methodology, which is useful in measuring outcomes and impact in complex programmes, FAWE Chapters in the six countries are to collect MSC stories from their beneficiaries and other organizations that have done interventions promoting retention, access and performance of girls in secondary education.


  1. To identify innovative programmes that advance girls’ secondary education in Africa using the Most Significant Change stories technique;
  2. To provide a compendium of best practices on gender equity in education and training programmes.


The process involves collecting stories from initiatives that advance girls’ education at secondary level, followed by a systematic selection of the most significant of the stories by a competent panel of judges.  

FAWE Chapters in the six countries will collect stories and then will undertake an in-country selection under the adjudication of a panel of independent judges. They will submit the selected stories to the next level scrutiny, which comprises the ADEA and regional FAWE team. This combined team will conclude by selecting the top three Most Significant Change stories. Once this stage has been finalized, a compendium of best practices on advancing girls’ education at secondary level and based on the MSC stories gathered will be produced and publicized. 

Expected Outcome 

The availability of a repository of knowledge of the activities of all the various players in gender specific education in these countries will help to provide a reference of best practices on the subject. Using this kind of information will help to avoid the replication of existing programmes.


About ADEA:

The Association for the Development of Education in Africa (ADEA) is a forum for policy dialogue, composed of all the 54 Ministers of Education in Africa. Established in 1988 at the instigation of the World Bank, it has evolved into a pan-African institution based within the African Development Bank (AfDB). Since its inception, it has acted on processes that have had a profound impact on policy-making in Africa through evidence-based policy dialogue, capacity building, advocacy and networking. ADEA’s work has expanded to focus more on the development of skills and competencies across all the education sub-sectors. It envisions a “high quality African education and training system that is geared towards the promotion of critical knowledge and skills for accelerated and sustainable development in Africa”.

About FAWE:

FAWE is a pan-African Non-Governmental Organisation working in 33 African countries to empower girls and women through gender-responsive education. FAWE was founded in 1992 by five African women ministers of education and it was created on the staunch belief that women in decision-making positions have the potential to make a significant difference.