Gold Peer Education Development Agency (GOLD) was established in 2004. GOLD assesses, selects and works hand-in-hand with strong community-based implementing partners and implements directly itself depending on the context and community at hand. Through GOLD, young leaders (called peer educators) use the power of peer pressure in a positive way. They influence their friends to have a vision and hope for a brighter future and to adopt health-enhancing and purpose driven behaviour that will enable them to reach their full potential and create positive change.
GOLD builds the capacity of 2 486 teenagers in disadvantaged communities in the Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Western Cape, and 848 teenagers in Zambia. GOLD’s focus is youth leadership and risk behaviour reduction. The programme that GOLD implements has proven outcomes and a best practice curriculum. These young leaders (peer educators) are taken on a journey of transformation, by undertaking the three year GOLD Skills Training programme. These leaders are equipped with tangible skills and character to contribute to positive changes in their schools and communities. Once an Alumni (GOLD graduate), these youth are given an opportunity to participate in the GOLD Grad community and are given access to connections to future opportunities. GOLD uses the methodology of peer education.
GOLD’s vision is to see a generation of young African leaders confronting the root issues of both HIV and youth risk behaviour, through uplifting their communities and imparting vision and purpose to present and future generations.
- Building social capital for sustainable community development in Southern Africa;
- Mitigating the negative impact of inadequate education and HIV/AIDS on youth, orphans and vulnerable children, families and communities; and
- Reducing risk behaviour and the number of new HIV infections in youth by developing social norms that encourage them to protect their health and their futures.
Main Activities and Services
The GOLD Peer Education Model uses a well-researched curriculum and resources. It has been tested and refined over eight years and is implemented through two - three year skills training programmes. It is grounded in researched evidence and best practices from the peer education field.
Out of School Facilitators Skills Training Programme
A major focus of the GOLD Model is the intensive development of young adults from disadvantaged communities through a life-changing three year internship as a GOLD facilitator within a selected GOLD community and school site. GOLD provides a three-year structured skills training and mentoring programme for these young adults to become influential community leaders, youth work practitioners and experts in peer education practice. Not only do they get to develop critical soft and hard skills for their future employment, but they are the key agents responsible for delivering the training and mentoring of school-going age GOLD Youth Peer Educators on the ground in priority communities. Many of these young adults, despite being passionate about making a difference, were previously unemployable or unemployed. By being developed as a GOLD facilitator they gain excellent work experience and in the process of being skilled they are given the opportunity to empower those younger than them in the same way.
School Going Age Peer Educators
The heart of the GOLD approach is to equip adolescents to reach their full potential and in turn to measurably empower their peers and other younger children to make purpose-driven and health-enhancing decisions across all areas of their lives. This is achieved through a three-year skills training and mentorship programme in which carefully selected teenage opinion leaders are equipped and supported as Peer Educators. Peer Educators become role models who use this power of peer pressure as a structured and positive force for personal, group and community change. These school leavers or out-of-school adolescent youth leaders are not only provided with a lifetime toolkit of skills, leadership development, but are given specific roles and responsibilities to bring about a sustained revolution of hope and positive social norms among their generation. This is a ‘by youth for youth’ person-by-person approach.
Peer Educator Roles are as follows:
- Role model health-enhancing behaviour;
- Educate their peers and younger children in a structured way;
- Recognise peers in need of help and refer them to relevant community resources for assistance; and
- Uplift their communities through advocacy and volunteerism.
Through the GOLD Leadership pipeline, youth gain valuable skills as well as practical work experience, while uplifting their communities, ultimately leading to an increase in their employability and to a stronger community.
GOLD’s curriculum is based on the following Modules:
- Self Development;
- Gender, Relationships and Rights;
- Sexual and Reproductive Health;
- Communication Skills and
- Community Action.
- Research to date shows evidence that GOLD Peer Education significantly contributes to:
- Increased life skills;
- Improved academic performance;
- Increased healthy relationships among the youth;
- Increased HIV and AIDS knowledge;
- Improved access to community services that support youth;
- Increased community upliftment activities driven by youth;
- Decreased gender violence amongst youth;
- Increase in the number of youth taking up leadership positions;
- Decreased behavioural or discipline problems at school;
- Decreased teen pregnancy;
- Decreased substance abuse; and
- Improved attendance at school.
The organisation looks forward to measuring the long term sustainability of GOLD Peer Education through increased access to future opportunities of GOLD Graduates.
Challenges and Opportunities
The biggest challenges facing GOLD are sustainability for scaling up into under resourced communities and the high rate of youth unemployment facing school leavers. Historically, GOLD has focussed on the development of the young person through their participation in the three year GOLD skills training course. The 2010 GOLD outcomes report posed a significant challenge that despite strong evidence of positive impact being achieved in education, health and leadership transformation, GOLD had not sufficiently leveraged the social capital within its programme and ensured that its beneficiaries are given the opportunity to access future opportunities beyond the GOLD programme.
The ultimate sustainability of the GOLD peer education programme can only be measured by the long-term social and economic contribution of the emerging leaders who have passed through the GOLD programme. This challenge has helped GOLD recognise and take up the opportunity of providing structured assistance to link GOLD Grads to jobs, internships and future opportunities.
In response to the reality of an increasingly smaller donor pool in South Africa, GOLD has been inspired to strengthen its entrepreneurial spirit and has launched a for profit social enterprise to contribute towards the long term sustainability of GOLD Peer Education. This entity, owned by a nonprofit, is also creating an opportunity to share the DNA and best practices of GOLD with a wider market and across geographic borders.
Quote about GOLD
“I come from a small shack area. In this community there are many gangsters. I also decided to join a gang. Gangsters rob and steal. They even rob our fathers and mothers.
My life changed after I joined the GOLD Peer Education programme… I realised that what I did was wrong, that these bad things will make me lose good opportunities in life. I now respect my parents and teachers and attend school. I was even nominated to attend Saturday classes.
I left the bad things I used to do. Now I think about my future. I would like to concentrate on my studies. I will get educated and then have enough money to buy myself a house in a good area where my family and I will live. To all young people – focus on your studies. Gangsterism does not pay, it will only lead to death.”
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