The rapid evolution of ICT, media and social media has exposed young people to large amounts of both reliable and unreliable sources of health information. This variety of sources of information has its advantages and disadvantages. It provides to young people the opportunity to triangulate and verify the information but it can also lead to risky treatment choice. Based on the idea that good decisions about health depends on people’s critical thinking skills, their ability to obtain, process and understand information, this project aimed to work with out-of-school youth to figure out a way of communicating the required capacity to select, process and interpret the information in order to make informed health decisions.
The findings from this project were summarised into three categories: (i) the status of youth centres in Rwanda, (ii) adaptation of learning resources and (iii) pilot findings. The findings indicate that youth centres in Rwanda are potential learning environment for teaching critical thinking about health. The centres are accessed mostly by out-of-school youths who come to seek youth-related services including health services. There are resources and staff (although limited) who support the running of centre’s daily activities.
It is appropriate to teach out of school youths by delivering the content in ways suggested by the centre staff and the young people; for example through audio podcasts, videos, games or plays. The adapted resources (audio podcasts) were favourably accepted by young people who were able to understand the content and appreciate its value. In learning through the adapted audio podcasts, 68 (83.9%) of youth were able to pass the ‘critical thinking about health test’ that was mainly assessing how they understood the concepts covered in podcasts. Participants understood the concepts and have started to use what they learned in real life. The project has developed key relationships that will be the base for future projects. We have developed a close working relationship between academia, private organisations, and government institutions over the past 12 months of implementation.
The main outputs of the project included the key findings on the status of youth centres in Rwanda, production of audio podcasts and facilitators’ guides for teaching critical thinking about health, development of a mobile application to help dissemination of the produced podcasts and guides. Furthermore, the project trained youth and youth centre staff on how to train others on critical thinking about health. The project translated a critical thinking about health questionnaire for assessing how learners understood critical thinking skills into Kinyarwanda, and was able to publish one paper on the development of a mobile application.