Evidence brief: Samata intervention to increase secondary school completion and reduce child marriage among adolescent girls from marginalised communities

Evidence brief - Samata intervention to increase secondary school completion.pdf

The Samata trial assessed the impact of a multi-level structural and norms-based intervention developed by the Indian not-for-profit organisation, Karnataka Health Promotion Trust (KHPT). The trial was designed to reduce secondary school dropout and child marriage among marginalised scheduled caste/scheduled tribe (SC/ST) adolescent girls living in rural settings in South India. 

A number of structural and norms-based factors function as drivers of under-age marriage, early sexual debut and school dropout.

  • Poverty and limited livelihood options mean that girls are needed at home or in the labour market to support household income (and therefore withdraw from school).
  • As per current social norms in these communities, girls marry young (in early adolescence) and withdraw from education to fulfill new roles as wives and mothers.
  • The Samata trial revealed that the norm underlying these outcomes involves ensuring a girl's sexual purity and her family's reputation. This in turn leads to restricted mobility for girls post menarche.

Key findings

Our research showed that, although marriage and school drop out are sometimes linked, one does not necessarily lead to the other. We found no overall difference in school retention or child marriage between trial arms. However, the trial took place in the context of sweeping secular changes in girl child marriage and secondary school retention, due to government-led initiatives across study disctricts during the trial. We did find evidence that this approach was able to enhance school completion in one of the two districts. 

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