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Dear Phil

The SA with 10 practices is very useful for 'community of practice' like for example staff of an NGO, AIDS council, network of CSOs, groups of stakeholders, project teams, health offices, the National facilitate teams. The SA is very useful because for me it covers the issue of "life competence" in general.

However, when we target of groups like our targets who are "naturally-formed" peer groups who are grouped according to their common attributes, the SA would not work.

Like for example, groups of gays, of prostituted women, or boys used as courier for drug trafficking, etc. these groups have their own sub-culture that comprise specific knowledge, attitudes and behaviors that defines their group and and their distinction with other groups. Gender issues for instance is not an issue for these groups though we facilitators would see according to our lenses that there is indeed gender issues among them. Acknowledgement and recognition for instance is a long process that takes understanding their own knowledge, attitudes and practices before they arrive into acknowledging their vulnerabilities. And one of our difficulties is the absence of the local translation of one or more of the 10 practices where when we try to interpret them would have a different interpretation.

Specialized assessments is just like what researchers do, the KAP or KAS, however these are for research and programme purposes. If we can develop these into tools not for research purposes but for individuals and group's use would be very helpful in building life competent communities. Researchers can have a secondary data analysis of these assessments but the purpose should be for communities to assess their own knowledge, attitudes, skills practices as their own base-lines.

In fact the self-measurement of change that we developed that includes the self assessment of risk, was a very useful tool for our street boys. We developed them specifically and tailored-fit to gays, boys and girls. In this way, we can see the gender differences and gender issues among them. The individual river diagramme was helpful for each members and the group river diagram was helpful for the group level as well as for the Village where they can see the risk of their youth which can be used for policy development for youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health.

I think the constellation will create a life competence tools development committee where we can create templates where communities can construct their own indicators on knowledge, attitudes, skills. In this way, construction of indicators come from the communities instead of imposing indicators to them like the UNGASS indicators.

We have issues here like for example that having sex with homosexual men are safer than having sex with females or oral sex is not sex, urinating after sex can kill STDs, and etc. But indicators for these beliefs are not captured in the UNGASS indicators or the SA and these have implications in their competence development.

I think it would not be burdensome if the tools we make are user-friendly, indicators are self-constructed and all they got to do is fill-up individually and with their peers and our work would simply be helping them analyse the data. Later on if we really wish to use the SA as the general template in describing the competenc eof the gorups, we can just categorise each indicators under each of the 10 practices accordingly - then in an instant we are still keeping the idea of the general Self Assessment template.


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Hey, JP...

Thanks for sharing these thoughts. I think you're right about being able to adapt the self-assessment process so that groups identify practises that are specifically relevant to their own competence.

Instead of creating a whole range of issue-specific, or community-specific self-assessment templates (eg. for sex workers, for gay teens, for handicapped people), we've used - in a variety of settings, including faith-groups, human-rights focussed organisations, associations of handicapped people - the process of developing a self-assessment framework from scratch. It is the process that leads to the final framework that is rich with interaction and reflection. Many of the final practises are often close to the original generic Constellation tool, but the group's developed it themselves. It makes space for reflections on concern and vision beforehand.

In the HIVOS group, we're working on that process right now with a group of 10 partner organisations in Southern Africa, East Africa and India. Perhaps you'd be interested in joining the group, and contributing your thoughts to the creative process of defining the practises and levels.



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