Lessons for Integrating Leadership Skills in Alternative Basic Education Programs
To learn how project activities contribute to the development of leadership skills, Advancing Youth implemented a non-experimental qualitative study guided by the following research questions:
- What are the qualities and skills Advancing Youth Project youth expect of persons who are regarded as effective leaders?
- What project activities do youth participants feel are the most useful in helping them develop qualities and skills necessary to be a good leader?
Study data was collected from eight ABE sites in both Nimba and Montserrado counties during 2014 and 2015. The 16 selected sites represent a mix of rural and urban environments and include those with high and low performance. A total of 320 young people enrolled in ABE participated in the study; 74 percent of these participants were female and 26 percent were male, closely representative of the gender split within the project as a whole. Interviews with a sample of youth participants in the USAID Liberia Advancing Youth Project revealed that their understanding of effective leadership is essentially different from usual definitions. Youth viewed effective leadership as primarily social, produced by a combination of patience, kindness, and giving good advice—characteristics that rarely top the lists of leadership qualities and are very infrequently drivers of leadership programming. When asked to map these qualities to the project's activities, study participants signaled that the project's meaningful and socially engaging opportunities help develop the leadership skills they value.