Peer Education is when children learn hygiene behaviours and practices from each other. The child-to-child concept is that children can gain information and knowledge, pass it on to others and influence other children to make improved decisions regarding hygiene practices.
Peer Education can be an effective tool for children as they tend to engage in group activities during and after school hours. Observing others and being observed during activities such as handwashing or using the toilet creates peer pressure and positively influences hygiene behaviour norms. Peer learning can be gender-specific, especially for female children about menstrual hygiene. Peer learning is a relatively rapid process for children if they are in an environment that is supervised and conducive to learning appropriate hygiene behaviours. Learning happens informally between peer groups or formally where a child is assigned to teach and supervise other children. Behaviours such as handwashing, cleaning and maintenance of WASH facilities and hygiene behaviours during disease outbreaks can all be targeted through peer learning. Champions T.22 can be identified by schools and communities and assigned to supervise and teach other children. Children are often seen as a homogenous group, but the design of child-to-child programmes must accommodate different age groups and genders. Whilst not strictly ‘peer’ education, older children can demonstrate by example or teach skills to younger children. Activities may include reading and writing, physical activities, discussions, Games T.15, Songs T.47, Role Plays T.41 and Drama T.6. It can also be implemented through Mass Media C.5. Peer learning topics for children should mirror campaigns in the community where specific health risks are high. Peer Education is an element of existing hygiene promotion approaches such as CHAST F.9, Fit for School F.10, SLTS F.2 or School Health Clubs F.1.
Peer Education is applicable in schools and all communities, urban or rural. It can be used in all response phases. However, a structured, sustainable intervention is harder to implement in the acute response phase.
Build basic competencies of humanitarian staff to work with children and identify child trainers
Develop and use age-appropriate games and activities for children and use practical activities to reinforce ideas
Take the opinions and experiences of children seriously
Do not mix child peer groups with adults
Do not compromise child protection and safety for any activity
Do not limit child-to-child activities to schools
During the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone, a radio production team was commissioned to produce the radio series Pikin to Pikin Tok, intended to enhance children’s life skills. The series was made up of three different programmes each of which targeted different age ranges. Groups of children were recruited and trained as ‘young journalists’. They helped to identify stories, interview key stakeholders and record audio content for the programme, which was then broadcast by the local radio station. Listener groups were set up and supported by trained adult facilitators to engage in discussions about the issues being aired. Children were encouraged to phone in after the radio broadcasts to express their views and opinions.
UNICEF East Asia and Pacific Regional Office (2007): The Participation of Young People and Children in Emergencies. A Guide for Relief Agencies, Based Largely on Experiences in the Asian Tsunami Response
Child to Child (undated): INEE Global Meetup: How Can Children Take an Active Role in Education in Emergencies?
Gibbs, S., Mann, G. et al. (2002): Child-to-Child: A Practical Guide. Empowering Children as Active Citizens Child-to-Child
Oxfam (undated): Working with Children in Humanitarian WASH Programmes