Description/achievement of initiative
Beyond the Stars is a world-first health intervention and education program that uses innovative technology, play-based learning and storytelling mediums to inspire children in the Pacific Islands to adopt healthy living habits, self-educate on subjects from the school curriculum and consider the impact their actions on the environment.
In the story, children embark on an exciting adventure to learn about health, nutrition, physical activity, traditional produce, local culture, and more as they combat non-communicable diseases and improve their health. Through this experience, each child is empowered to decide their own future, and the future of people around them.
To date, S1T2 has developed a pilot version of the intervention which is currently being run in nine (9) schools across Viti Levu, the main island of Fiji. Each school has been provided with a number of materials to aid in the program’s implementation in Year-4 classrooms over the duration of a school term as a comprehensive educational program. These materials include:
- Animated short film introducing the story
- VR experience introducing the narrative in first-person
- Educational storybook incorporating existing curriculum, national policies and regional agendas
- Interactive storytelling game played on mobile devices
- Detailed teacher training handbooks and workshops
- In-school engagement with students, teachers, and parents
The pilot is being implemented by S1T2 in-country with the support of local fixers, cultural advisers, KPMG and the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (Fiji). The project has been endorsed by the Fijian Government in the form of a Cabinet Paper, and is supported by Vodafone through a Memorandum of Understanding and the provision of mobile devices.
After the successful implementation of the pilot phase, it is anticipated that the program will be expanded and scaled across other schools and year groups. In this way, the greater story will be unveiled over time, coinciding with children’s progression through school, intrinsically linking the story world with the notion of growing up - allowing the program to have long-term impacts through sustained engagement.
Furthermore, Beyond the Stars can also be shared with other countries throughout the Pacific Islands, allowing it to have a greater impact throughout the region. In order to achieve this, S1T2 is looking to partner with governments and key organisations that may be interested in supporting the program in the future.
Arrangements for Capacity-Building and Technology Transfer
Part of the process of implementation involves creating avenues for capacity building both in the school environment and amongst the greater community. Within schools, this involves training and working with local fixers and cultural advisers that follow the S1T2 team into each school and participate in the implementation process. Then, the S1T2 team works in collaboration with the head teacher and Year-4 teachers in each school to train them on how to deliver the program in the classroom.
This training process involves providing the school and teachers with handbooks documenting each aspect of the program and teaching workbooks that outline how the program could be implemented in classrooms and example lesson plans, as well as supplementary teaching materials that allow teachers to make the best use of the storytelling and technological aspects of the program with their students. Technical support is available via email and phone, while local support remains in country to assist for any emergencies that require visiting the school in person.
Across the greater community, S1T2 have worked to develop partnerships and relationships with like-minded organisations that offer value for both the pilot and later phases, when the program is expected to scale across greater areas of Fiji and the rest of the Pacific Islands. These partnerships include a Memorandum of Understanding with Vodafone detailing the provision of bandwidth and tablet devices, as well as a Cabinet Paper with the Fiji Government to officialise the support provided across Ministries.
Discussions have also been held with other partners including The Pacific Community (SPC) and World Health Organisation who are interested in aligning the Beyond the Stars program, and its use of storytelling and innovative technologies, with their existing initiatives to expand and enhance their impact..
Finally, during the design and development stage of Beyond the Stars, the team was able to ensure the integration of our program with existing policies, programs and initiatives to amplify the value that implementing Beyond the Stars would provide. This includes alignment with:
- World Health Organisation’s Health Promoting Schools initiative
- Policy on Food and School Canteen with the Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts
- National Wellness Policy for Fiji with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services
- National Strategic Plan 2016-2020 with the Ministry of Health and Medical Services
- Healthy Living, Physical Education and Social Studies Curriculum
- Pacific Island Food Composition Tables
Coordination mechanisms/governance structure
The pilot is intended to improve our understanding of how story-driven interactive experiences can help to address issues of malnutrition by inspiring pride in local culture, and promoting other social issues beyond nutrition that altogether aim to combat non-communicable diseases in a holistic manner. This includes the encouragement of physical activity and community engagement, raising awareness on the effects of climate change on the environment, and the importance of health and wellbeing.
The pilot involves 9 schools, 20 teachers, over 300 students and surrounding communities. It is officially supported by the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health in Fiji, and has garnered wider national interest through a Cabinet Paper approved and signed by the Fijian Government.
Working with an independent monitoring and evaluation organisation, S1T2 has created a robust Theory of Change framework for measuring success of the pilot. Beyond the direct influence on children, we expect to measure how children’s attitudinal shifts around food are supported by teachers and the greater community. At the same time, we envisage that the pilot will have some influence on parental thinking through the pilot’s focus on encouraging the active participation of families throughout its implementation.
This framework includes both quantitative and qualitative data collection methods that measure specific health and engagement outcomes throughout the program. Quantitative data will be gathered through a mixture of low-fi (surveys measuring changes in student knowledge and teacher/parent acknowledgment of program engagement) and hi-fi (mobile game application statistics including game completion rates and duration of play statistics) methods. Qualitative data will also be collected via semi-structured interviews with children, parents and teachers.
Altogether, the project was designed, developed and implemented by S1T2 in partnership with the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (Fiji), with management and logistical support from SecondMuse and KPMG. The pilot is funded by Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade innovationXchange.
S1T2, Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade innovationXchange, Ministry of Education, Heritage and Arts (Fiji), SecondMuse