• Dhyan

Supporting Girls to Thrive Mixed Methods Report - now published!

Updated: Oct 7

Last year Empatika partnered with Stats4SD to conduct a mixed methods baseline study commissioned by UNICEF Indonesia to support the start of their programme on supporting girls to thrive in West Papua. This programme will aim to achieve three main outcomes that include: i) building a positive school climate to keep girls in school and to prevent violence in schools; ii) providing a quality learning package for primary and lower secondary students to improve their learning outcome and their healthy behaviours; and iii) providing safe and self-empowering opportunities for adolescents to actively learn, discuss and express their views on key issues affecting their lives.


(click on each image to learn more)


This study explored a wide range of issues including literacy, WASH, in-school participation, life skills, bullying and violence. It is intended to help develop an accurate picture of the current situation in targeted schools, support adaptation of programme interventions, strategies and approaches, and provide a baseline for future programme impact assessment.


The quantitative portion of this mixed methods study used a survey conducted with students and teachers at eight schools (4 SMP and 4 SD) in the Sorong district of West Papua. During the survey an Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) was also conducted with grade 2 and 3 students. Following the survey fieldwork our researchers returned to conduct a RCA immersion in three of the survey locations, staying with some of the students to gain deeper insights and learn more from the students, their families, and the surrounding community. School observations were also conducted both during the survey fieldwork and the immersions in order to help complete the picture around these issues.


One of the unique aspects of the study was that most of the researchers that participated in the quantitative portion also went back for the qualitative immersions. This was the first time for many of our researchers to conduct a survey and we were lucky to have Alex from Stats4SD visit in late July to train our team before the survey fieldwork. Our researchers also introduced different icebreaking games as part of the survey process to help students feel comfortable and relaxed (see photo above). With many of the researchers going back for the immersions, this meant that researchers had already developed some relationships with students and others in the community and were already familiar with some of the context and challenges in that area. This also meant that during analysis of the findings when our study leads had follow-up questions or clarifications with our research team, they had multiple points of reference that they could draw upon. The study leads (including the two Empatika leads along with Alex from Stats4SD) also met for a two-day joint analysis session to lead into the report writing process.


Along with our partnership with Stats4SD on this study, we also received support from Dr. Lucia Retno and her team in designing and analysis of the EGRA test.


You can read the whole report here.



Some of the key findings from the study include:

  • Students are in general happy, physically active, enjoy school and feel relatively safe.

  • In many aspects boys are doing less well than girls at both SD and SMP level although more so at SMP level. Boys are subjected to worse punishments in school, have lower confidence, feel they are less listened to and do not have as good of learning outcomes as girls.

  • Literacy in SDs was low and in some schools concerningly low. This appears to have resulted from a combination of absenteeism, poor use of teaching and learning resources and participatory techniques in the classroom.

  • Papuan students are often treated differently and discriminated against both in school and in mixed-ethnicity communities. This generally takes the form of teachers having low expectations about their academic capacity and stereotyping them as physically active and happy but with low intellect. Papuan students often internalise these expectations but also sometimes struggle with language and lack confidence to ask questions in class.

  • Physical punishment is widespread in schools but is used more for boys and particularly male SMP students; however very few students have a strongly negative view of physical punishment and the majority of teachers continue to feel that physical punishment is required in schools.

  • Students made clear distinctions in their assessment of what constitutes harassment and felt that the level of inter-student teasing and ‘banter’ did not amount to harassment. The social norms evident in schools and communities combine to manage and contain harassment of a more serious kind. However, students consistently indicated that those who did suffer harassment were those girls and boys who were considered 'geeky' and these students were the least likely to cope well with this harassment

  • WASH facilities and behaviours were poor across schools. WASH knowledge and practices were not integrated into day-to-day teaching and learning

  • Absenteeism is high with both teachers and students and school contact hours are on average quite low. Neither teachers nor students prioritise learning in school but instead view school as a place for socialising.

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