Enterprising School Leavers

Enterprising School Leavers
Learning Brief

GOLD Peer Education Development Agency

A GOLDENen model: creating skills development opportunities for youth from marginalised communities

Category: Enterprising School Leavers | Opportunity mediation services | 12 May, 2014 - 18:00


Project context

GOLD Peer Education Development Agency (GOLD) is a non-profit organisation that was established in 2004. Our focus is youth leadership and behaviour change. The GOLD Model uses an evidence-based peer education approach that is supported by a robust and tested skills training curriculum. GOLD currently builds the capacity of over 3000 teenagers in disadvantaged communities throughout South Africa and Zambia. We take these young people on a “journey of transformation” as they participate in our three-year GOLD skills training programme as peer educators and change agents.

During our 2011 strategic planning, our leadership agreed to continue serving youth by adding a programme component that assists youngsters in finding jobs and further education opportunities beyond their time in the GOLD school programme. It was out of this meeting that GOLD’s Future Forward service offering was born. In our first learning brief we discussed the pilot model for this initiative. In the learning brief we discuss the full GOLD Model and highlight why a long-term service approach is essential for youth skills development.

Our GOLDen Model

Gold Future Forward is a three-year skills training and mentorship programmes for peer educators and facilitators. Our methodology is informed by a theory of peer education, which suggests harnessing the positive influence that young people can have on their peers. Youth can encourage each other to make informed choices and develop health-enhancing and purpose-driven social norms. We want to leverage this peer influence to help youth make good choices about their futures.

We have a value-added, tiered model where we train recent matriculants to be out-of-school GOLD Facilitators, who themselves support and train in-school GOLD Peer Educators. GOLD also carefully assesses, selects, and works hand-in-hand with strong community-based organisations (implementing organisations) to deliver peer education programmes in their communities. We deliver six main services:

  • Research and Development
  • Advocacy and Visibility
  • Resource Mobilisation
  • Quality Assurance
  • Training and Support
  • Stakeholder Mobilisation

Out-of-school GOLD Facilitators – young adults from disadvantaged communities are selected to take place in a three-year internship. They are called a “GOLD facilitator” and work in selected GOLD community and school sites. During this time they receive structured skills training and mentoring to become influential community leaders, youth work practitioners, and experts in peer education practice. They are also responsible for training and mentoring school-going GOLD Peer Educators. The internship offers these previously unemployed young adults an excellent opportunity to gain work experience, learn management and communication skills, and practice empowering others.

In-school GOLD Peer Educators – The heart of the GOLD approach is to equip adolescents to reach their full potential and in turn to empower their peers to make purpose-driven and health-enhancing decisions about their own lives. We carefully select teenage opinion leaders to be “Peer Educators” in school. They are provided with a lifetime toolkit of skills, leadership development, and 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. After three years, a Peer Educator can select to take part in a post-school, track-4 year.

Adopting a year-by-year approach

Over the course of three years the Peer Educators attend weekly skills training and regular mentoring sessions run by the trained GOLD facilitators. The weekly sessions follow the GOLD curriculum. Each year they cover 6 modules in increasing complexity. The GOLD curriculum includes modules devoted to:

  1. Self-Development
  2. Gender, Relationships, and Rights
  3. Sexual and Reproductive Health
  4. Leadership
  5. Communication Skills
  6. Community Action

Each year on our programme model emphasises different sets of life skills.

Year 1 – Junior Peer Educator: The focus is on Self Development. The Peer Educator is encouraged to take stock of his/her life and consider what attitude and behaviour changes need to be made to help them become healthy individuals on the way to realizing their full potential and becoming role models to their peers.

Year 2 – Senior Peer Educator: The focus is on community upliftment. Peer Educators must spearhead these upliftment activities and practically apply project management, leadership, advocacy and communications skills. 

Year 3 – Mentor Peer Educator: The main focus is mentorship. Mentor Peer Educators focus on providing mentorship and guidance to younger peer educators and peers.

The GOLDen value chain

The GOLD model is designed to help young people incrementally develop the hard and soft skills needed to secure a job, and to make informed life choices about their own futures. Throughout the years on our programme, the youngsters gradually build up their skill base, which adds value to their own lives, and adds value to future employees who them. The peer mentorship structure also allows the youngsters to pass on their skills and knowledge to other youth, thus growing the value chain.

GOLD also bases its skills training on the needs of the market place. We have identified essential employee attributes for the public and private job market. These include: work experience, strong work ethic, dependability, positive attitude, adaptability and resilience, integrity and honesty, willingness to learn, self-confidence, and good communication skills. These attributes are often lacking in recent high school graduates and out-of-school youth. The GOLD initiative helps youth to gain these skills. Consequently potential employees favourably receive our young participants.  We specifically emphasise these skills during the final stage of our GOLD model, the Future Forward initiative.

Services offered through the Future Forward initiative:

The GOLD Future Forward service offering is designed to suit the needs of our young beneficiaries. It is the final part of the GOLD value chain and cannot be isolated from the three year GOLD skills training programmes. It consists of five elements:

  1. Information dissemination: Information related to career, study, and post-school opportunities is shared with the GOLD facilitators and peer educators via the GOLD website, Facebook page, emails, or phone text messages.
  2. Online search portal: GOLD trainees who have completed the three-year programme have access to our partner-operated Link4U web portal. This is an online platform for sharing opportunities for further study and jobs. It works in combination with training and skills development sessions, as well as mentoring and career development, and is not meant as a single intervention or recruitment portal in isolation from additional support and training of school leavers.
  3. Connection to opportunities: The GOLD programme acts as the connector between the young beneficiaries and potential employers, vocational partners, and study institutions. GOLD staff actively share information and assist GOLD youth in their job and study application processes. We meet with potential employers to form long-term partnerships for the purpose of placing youth in first time jobs, learnerships or work experience placements. GOLD advocates amongst employers and other stakeholders about the need to create opportunities for youth to gain work experience.
  4. Future Forward training workshop and information booklet: We offer all Grade 11 Peer Educators and Facilitators a three-day training workshop to equip them with knowledge and skills around specific job and study topics. This enables them to effectively know how to plan for studies/jobs upon leaving school. These sessions work together with the full GOLD skills training and mentorship programmes addressing core skills and attributes for increasing youth employability.
  5. Exit pack for GOLD Graduates: We develop a personalised resource pack for each GOLD beneficiary once they complete the three-year skills training workshop. The exit pack includes a Groper Personality Profile report; complete curriculum vitae; personal profile and testimonial; and a signed, GOLD Peer Educator/ Facilitator reference letter listing their work experience, activities conducted, and skills acquired.

Success and Priorities Going Forward

GOLD appeals to employees. Potential employers react favourably to GOLD’s desire to form long-term relationships with our youth. GOLD can offer employees access to a pipeline of youth that have progressed through a three-year skills training and mentorship programme, and who are therefore more employable than the average school graduate.

Our priority going forward is to work with potential employers to see the value in investing in a young person from year one of the GOLD programme so that together, GOLD, the employer, and the young person are working towards a positive outcome for that young person’s life as well as supporting the young person to continue to be a positive and influential leader for decades to come within their workplace.


22 Station Road, Rondebosch, Cape Town

 (021) 685 5038


In Short

In this learning brief the GOLD Agency reveals how it successfully implements a long-term youth programme that provides skills development for selected teenagers over a series of years. This model is a successful example of how youth development is a process, requiring commitment and a holistic care approach.

 Search for lessons learned:

Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".
Leave blank for all. Otherwise, the first selected term will be the default instead of "Any".