South Sudan has some of the lowest education ratings in the world, and some of the greatest gender disparity. Combined, this means that educaiton provision for girls is pretty poor. The UK's Department for International Development (DfID) is currently funding a six year (2013 - 2018), £60m girls education programme, known as GESS (Girls' Education in South Sudan). GESS aims to transform the lives of a generation of South Sudanese girls by supporting more girls to get into school, to stay in school longer and receive a higher quality education. The project is implemented by a consortium of partners within which BBC Media Action works to support the development of positive attitudes and behaviour change towards girls' education at the community level.
Working with BBC Media Action, I contracted and coordinated a team of collaborators to design an interactive drama guide to help communities actively explore and tackle barriers girls face accessing and completing school.
The interactive drama guide is a practical resource for community based mobilisers to use in their work transforming girls' education in South Sudan. The guide provides exercises, games and theatre-based tools for community members to explore how they can improve educational access and achievement for girls in their community.
The guide uses a learning approach based on experiencing and doing, rather than observing and listening. This approach empowers individuals to:
1) Explore how their thoughts, attitudes and behaviours may contribute to the current context and status of girls' education.
2) Discover what they can do to change the situation, as individuals and as a community.
3) Rehearse strategies for making this change possible.
In this way, difficult issues can be explored playfully and with sensitivity. The approach allows citizens to contribute to the change process, and to find alternative ways of tackling re-occurring problems, particularly those that are socially entrenched.
The manual draws on the games and techniques of Augusto Boal's 'Theatre of the Oppressed'.
The team included:
Elfatih Atem, Cinematography Specialist at the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and co-founder of Likikiri Collective. (Content, advise on local context and field testing of guidebook).
Dominic Gargory, Actor, Director and Script Writer from South Sudan Theatre Organisation (Content, advise on local context and field testing of guidebook).
Melissa Everleigh, Founder and Director of Arts for Action (Advisor on methodology and content).
John Martin, Artistic Director of Pan Intercultural Arts (Advisor on methodology and content).
Hannah Rounding (Coordinating the team, guidebook design, curating and editing all content).