Character Development and Adolescent Health: An Evaluation the Impact of Traditional Storytelling on Improving Sexual and Reproductive Health Education Outcomes


Director: Jane Kinney Meyers

Institution: Lubuto Library Partners

Zambia has high rates of adolescent pregnancy, HIV, and gender-based violence, highlighting the urgent need for effective sexual and reproductive health (SRH) programs for youth. Traditional values are often seen as impediments to SRH programs in conservative cultural contexts, yet there are obvious links between character strengths valued by society and skills that promote both equitable gender norms and sexual health among adolescents.

This project tests whether incorporating instruction in cultural values within an evidence-based SRH curriculum will (1) increase the target population’s knowledge, awareness, and character strength, and (2) result in higher rates of attitude and behavior change on key SRH indicators.

To do this, the team will create a revised curriculum that leverages character strengths, thereby improving SRH outcomes for adolescents. This curriculum combines Stepping Stones—a popular, evidence-based SRH curriculum—with LubutoMentoring, an arts-based character development program that uses traditional storytelling and drama to teach an array of character strengths. Using a quasi-experimental design, it will evaluate sexual behavior, knowledge, attitude change, expression of character strengths, and other outcomes. The project’s modified Stepping Stones curriculum may be scaled up nationally through publications, presentations, and the wide Stepping Stones community of practice.


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