The following descriptions are examples of two approaches to adapting materials to meet the local context, participant needs, and expectations of key stakeholders.
Technical advisors of an international nongovernmental organization (NGO), working with in-country staff of a youth skills development program, wrote a draft curriculum in English for a 100-hour work readiness course designed to be delivered to several thousand young people through local organizations and private businesses. They wanted to make sure the curriculum materials (Facilitator’s Guide and Participant Manual) were appropriate, relevant and able to be understood by potential facilitators and participants. At the same time, program staff were eager to strengthen partnerships with government agencies concerned with youth and employment by pursuing a potential long-term goal of national certification for the course.
When the first full draft of the curriculum was ready, the program director convened a week-long curriculum review workshop, composed of approximately 20 key stakeholders and potential users. Participating for all or part of the week were the program’s training and private sector partnership staff, representatives from local youth-serving NGOs and youth councils, representatives from the private sector, staff of the government’s department of labor and its workforce development agency and representatives from several international NGOs with an interest in the same topic. The purpose of the workshop was to contextualize and revise the manual so it would be relevant to out-of-school youth in the primary urban area of the country. The workshop was conducted in a mixture of English and two other languages.
Each day workshop participants were oriented to one or two curriculum modules, first with an overview and then through participating in some of the curriculum activities facilitated by program staff. Working in small groups, participants then reviewed specific sections of the curriculum, suggested changes or deletions, created new activities, and wrote or re-wrote problem-solving scenarios. By the end of the week, all materials had been thoroughly reviewed and potential partners and users (from government, private sector, and NGOs) were familiar with and excited about the curriculum.
In the weeks following the workshop, staff and consultants made revisions to each module, translated the curriculum into the local language, and tried out selected modules with two different small groups of young people. The revised course was piloted by facilitators from local NGOs with 100 youth participants. After one more round of slight adjustments and changes in language, the course is in full-scale implementation with over a thousand young people.
A local nongovernmental organization (NGO) that runs rural livelihoods projects in two regions of the country planned to expand their program to include a stronger youth component that would focus on entrepreneurial skills. Staff used www.ready4work.org to identify a set of curriculum materials that was a fairly good fit for their situation. The selected curriculum was originally developed for a country that was geographically and culturally very different from their own, but they liked the concepts and the overall approach. They contacted the developer and made arrangements to purchase the materials, knowing that some adaptations would need to be made.
The program director and her key program staff spent two full days working their way through the instructional guides and participant materials. They identified activities that would need to be re-written to reflect local culture and in simpler language, as they knew that participants would have low literacy levels. They identified several topics that could be added to the curriculum, and decided that they would need more explicit ways of tracking learner goals and progress, in order to fit with their overall program objectives. In addition, they knew the materials would need to be translated into the local language. They thought the illustrations were generic enough to be used, but wanted additional feedback from others.
This NGO has an active advisory committee composed of regional representatives from several organizations and agencies that are working on sustainable agriculture and economic development. At their next meeting, the program staff gave an overview of the proposed new course, identified the ways in which they thought the course might be improved to best meet the needs of the communities in which it would be implemented and invited feedback and suggestions from the committee. By the end of the one hour discussion, the committee supported the initial adaptations suggested by the staff and proposed ways to incorporate some activities and simple materials from two of their own organizations. One representative offered to pilot the course with youth in his community, in partnership with the lead NGO. All members of the advisory committee were excited about the potential of this new course.