New pilot project in El Salvador

On 16th of September 2021, two education officers from UNICEF El Salvador, Marta Navarro and Marta Gomez, organized a virtual meeting with Nicoletta Armstrong, ICDP, in order to report and discuss about the progress of a pilot project, in which the ICDP programme is one of the key components. Another important topic addressed in this pilot is gender equality. This project, whose aim is to reduce violence against children received sponsorship from the EU and it represents cooperation with the Spotlight organization. It will end in December 2022.

Liliana Reyes from the Instituto Salvadoreño para el Desarrollo Integral de la Niñez y la Adolescencia – ISNA, (Salvadoran Institute for the Comprehensive Development of Children and Adolescents) also participated in the meeting. She reported that the implementation of the ICDP programme was executed by ICDP trainers and ICDP facilitators from ISNA and the NGO called EDUCO. ISNA has been working with ICDP for over ten years and in line with their policy all ISNA personnel receives ICDP training.

The municipalities in 3 areas covered by the pilot were prioritized on the basis of high levels of violence recorded in families and the community, exacerbated by gender issues concerning women and girls. The 3 areas are San Salvador, San Miguel and San Martin. The execution of the project plan took place in close communication with the local governments.

In the first phase of the project, ICDP was delivered to parents of adolescents and in the second, adolescents will facilitate the programme to other adolescents. The second phase is currently under preparation and will be starting in 2022.

Due to the pandemic, both the training and the roll out had to be modified to include virtual media. This proved to be a great learning. The ICDP trainers and ICDP facilitators received training in person as well as online – they would log on the new platform where all ICDP materials were presented in a didactic format to facilitate learning step by step. The new platform was prepared specifically for the training of trainers and facilitators, but not for the work with parents. Parents of adolescents attended the ICDP meetings in person and received follow up via WhatsApp and Zoom.

In 2021, the parents of adolescents who participated in the project were the same parents who had in previous years received the ICDP programme but at that time it was ICDP in the modality designed for parents of young children. This continuity of ICDP delivery was intentional as a long-term strategy. A special effort was made to involve both sexes in the project, which proved not to be an easy task.

The success of this pilot will be evaluated in its later stages, however, there are very positive signs already that it is working. Parents who never expressed loving feelings to their children, were now able to write warm letters to their children full of expressions of love and appreciation. Most parents said they did not know how to communicate with their children before ICDP and that the 3 dialogues have changed their lives. According to Liliana Reyes, the greatest impact on the lives of parents and their children came from the fact that in ICDP they had to apply and practice the 8 guidelines and then share with others their experiences – this practical aspect impacted the most.

The project met with technical difficulties such as difficult or no reception to talk using WhatsApp.