CorStone Phase II

The Children’s Resiliency Programme for Girls in India – Surat (CRPG)
The Children’s resilience program in India has been targeting girls aged 12-18years, coming from low socio-economic settings. The main focus of the program is to equip the girls with awareness and a skill set for dealing with personal challenges and building emotional resilience through a facilitated peer support model.

The program was piloted in a non formal school in Delhi and an evaluation found wide acceptability as well as a positive impact on the participants.

In the second phase the program has been implemented in Surat, Gujarat through CHILDHOOD – Gujrat State Federation of Slum Dwellers Women, an organization run by women living in the slums of Gujarat, India. 50 teachers were recruited for the program of which 36 finally implemented the program.

Of these 18 teachers were primary facilitators with higher educational qualification and 18 were community teachers and played the role of co-facilitators. As many as 1020 girls were recruited of which 883 finally gave consent and participated in the program. Of these 432 received the program in the first phase.

The girls were divided into smaller groups of 10-15 and each group was managed by a pair of facilitators (one a primary facilitator and the other a community teacher). The facilitators met the groups once or twice a week over 20 sessions, 3 of which were used for assessments. The program was implemented from March 2011 to September 2011.

Evaluation of the CRP programme
Our role was to evaluate this phase through an exploratory trial. Evaluation of the program was conducted with the aim of assessing the feasibility and acceptability of implementing the program in a wider setting in Surat and to explore improvements in mental health and emotional resilience among the participants. Four schools were recruited for the purpose of evaluation, two of which got the intervention in the first round.

The evaluation process included three types of data:

  1. Quantitative process and quality indicators
  2. Impact Evaluation using two scales administered through the program period – before, at mid point and at the end of the program
  3. Qualitative interviews held with the teachers and a small sample of students to explore their experiences in terms of feasibility, acceptability, relevance and impact of the program.

Key Findings
All facilitators reported that the training was well conducted though some also felt that it could have been longer and they did not always get the opportunity to clarify doubts.

With regard to facilitating the sessions the teachers faced minimal difficulties in conducting the sessions though they faced a number of other difficulties such has lack of time to complete each session since the program had to be held after school and the participants were in a hurry to go home, holidays and exams that disrupted the continuity of the program and difficulties that the girls faced in being able to understand some concepts.

Inspite of the difficulties, the girls who attended the program regularly found the program acceptable and beneficial. The impact evaluation found a positive association between attendance and impact wherein participants who attended a larger number of sessions showed improvement as compared to those who attended lesser sessions.

The impact was more significantly visible in the lowering of pessimism rather than an increase in optimism. The impact was also visible in mental health scores with normal scores increasing and borderline and abnormal scores decreasing at end line in the intervention group compared to the control group.

Conclusions and recommendations
The Corstone program that was implemented among girls coming from low socio economic settings in Surat, Gujarat exhibited acceptability, feasibility and a positive impact. However, the program also threw up interesting findings that call for an adaptation of the program to turn fully effective and relevant in the Indian setting.

The findings indicate that the program would be better suited in community settings rather then an in schools or as an after school program. As a way forward it is imperative to find space within community settings to conduct the program, to find alternative and simpler evaluation mechanisms and to design a more robust and powered trial to study the effectiveness of the program.