( By International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies )

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Appendix I: Techniques for educational activities


Techniques are methods of working with a group. You will find here guidelines for the techniques that have been used in the activities described above:

Group discussion

A story with a gap



Role play

Values voting

Use of pictures and

Case study


Fables and story telling

Picture code

Use of video

These techniques can be used in many ways. Consider how you and the youth group can adapt the ideas presented for use in your own culture and situation.

Group discussion

Discussion enables people to think about and then express their opinions on an issue. Listening to others may broaden or change their opinions and eventually help them to clarify their ideas, attitudes, values and behaviour. In some cases, debating issues helps individuals to face conflicts and to reach consensus.

As discussion leader, you have to ensure that everyone gets a chance to speak and feels able to contribute. A group of six to ten people is ideal.

If, for certain activities, you divide your whole group in small discussion groups, it is useful to elect one member to report on the main points of the discussion to the whole group.


A brainstorming session is a spontaneous group discussion to produce ideas and ways of solving problems. Brainstorming is a good way of involving the whole group and allowing them to think freely about a certain subject. Provide the group with just one question or one word. For example: “How can we help people with AIDS?” or “safer sex”. Everyone has a chance to call out his/her ideas. Write all the ideas down without comment. Then look at the list and clarify common opinions, identify priorities and set common goals. There may be areas you need to discuss before deciding on further action.

Be sure that you write down everyone’s ideas, although you may need clarification if you don’t understand the point being made. If someone has plucked up the courage to make a suggestion, it is important that it is added to the list, otherwise that person may not speak again and may feel rejected by the group and by the group leader. Everyone’s opinions are valuable and can be used in discussion later on.

Role play

Role playing involves presenting small, spontaneous plays, which describe possible real-life situations. Ideas for role plays might come from young people in your group. Be careful, however, not to portray a real-life situation which could be identified as that of someone from the group or local community.

In role play we take on someone else’s character. This is less intimidating than having to express our own ideas and emotions. A situation or problem is given to the group and volunteers take on the roles of the people involved. What they say to each other should be agreed only roughly beforehand. Role play needs no rehearsals or written script and, thus, no literacy skills at all. A role play never lasts long: five minutes is OK. The action evolves as the play goes along. Body language can often be as important as words! The other members of the group watch carefully.

The discussion after the play is an important part of the activity. It is aimed at analysing what has been heard and seen. The sort of questions asked after a role play are: “How do you feel?”, “Were you happy with the way things turned out?”, “What could be have been done to solve the problem?”

We can learn about our own behaviour through role play, and how our behaviour can contribute to the problems we experience. Role play is also useful to practise situations before you meet them in real life. For example, you may want to practise going to a pharmacist and asking for a packet of condoms or talking to your partner about how to use a condom. This preparation will help provide the skills young people may need in real life.

It is important at the end of the role play to ‘de-role’, that is, to stop pretending to be somebody else and return to reality. Give the players a chance to express their feelings about the characters and situations they acted out. All the players should remove any special symbols they used to play their characters. It may be necessary to have everyone change seats and say their real names. Do not underestimate the need for this.

Use of pictures and photographs

Pictures and photographs can be used in several ways. They are useful to draw people’s attention to a topic, to start discussions and stimulate group participation, to help people remember what you are presenting and to illustrate a point you want to make. You can use pictures/photographs as part of a game such as the ‘memory game’ to illustrate how AIDS is and is not spread.

Two techniques that use pictures are the picture code and the story with a gap.

A picture code is a poster-sized illustration, which presents a familiar problem about which a group may have strong feelings. A picture code is different from a poster: a poster always poses the solution, a picture code always poses the problem. A picture code is used at the beginning of a problem-solving session to focus the attention of the group on a familiar problem.

After the picture code is placed in a position where it can be seen clearly seen by all members of the group, guide the group through a series of questions. First, ask them to describe what is happening, then let the group analyse the situation (Why is it happening? What problems does this lead to?). Finally, ask for possible solutions to the situation. At the end of the discussion, summarize what has been said.

The story with a gap is a method where two pictures are used to stimulate discussion about possible events that have caused a problem. One picture shows the problem, e.g., a ‘sugar daddy’ in an expensive car calling to a young girl outside a night club. The second picture shows the ‘after’ scene, e.g., the same young girl being comforted by a friend. (The pictures are shown on page 138.) Ask the group to describe what they can see in the first picture. Then display the second picture and ask the group to suggest what may have occurred between the two scenes. In other words, the group is ‘filling the gap’ with a story of their interpretation.

You can find pictures and photographs in magazines and newspapers, or the youth group can draw their own pictures as part of a group activity.

When selecting pictures and photographs to use as part of a presentation, activity or project, they should:

show local situations and people who look and dress like local people;
focus on one main idea to avoid confusion;
be large enough for your group to see easily; and
be clear enough to be easily understood.

It will be important to pre-test any pictures you plan to use for your project.

See Appendix II: Guidelines for pre-testing health educational materials.


Competitions, such as a quiz, are appropriate techniques for groups of young people. A quiz can be used as a way to test the knowledge of the participants on certain issues, although it should not be presented as an exam that they can pass or fail. It offers an opportunity for the facilitator to fill in areas where there is a lack of knowledge. If you create a questionnaire yourself, make sure that no discussion is possible about whether the answer is false or correct. In other words, the questions or statements to be considered should provide objective information and not subjective ideas. The questions can be based on queries arising from focus-group discussions.

Values voting

Values voting is a method to explore the range of values and attitudes that exists in a group relating to a sensitive issue.

The participants are asked to respond to a controversial statement. This can be done by putting up ‘vote’ labels, for example, green for ‘agreement’, purple for ‘agree with reservations’, red for ‘disagreement’, yellow for ‘undecided’. Another method is to place large pieces of paper with these texts in four corners of the room, read out a statement and ask participants to go to the corresponding corner. Each ‘voting’ session is followed by a discussion. You might also consider a second vote in which participants can change their minds.

Case study

A case study describes a situation or problem that a group has to solve. Case studies can be designed to give people information, help them to consider their attitudes and values, or discuss the skills they might need to deal with the problem. They can be very simple stories which ask the group to think of strategies that they might use to solve a problem. For example:

Fernando died of AIDS recently. No one will go near his wife and children and some people are suggesting they should be made to leave the village. What should be done to help Fernando’s family and the village?

Or they can be much longer and have more characters that face difficult problems or situations. Remember that your group may have difficulty in reading, in which case you should read the case study to them very slowly. Don’t make it so complicated that they forget who did what, when and how. It is a good idea to go over the main points to make sure everyone has understood.

An open-ended story

An open-ended story is a short story, which stops at a point of decision. The story should present a real-life situation in the community and should deal with people’s emotions, beliefs and attitudes. The participants are asked to make up the end of the story. The objective is to provoke discussion about a common problem, and to encourage the group first to identify the problem and then to come up with possible solutions.

Fables and storytelling

Fables are stories that have been told to explain how people can put themselves in danger by acting in a certain way. Animals often represent the characters in a fable and, therefore, allow people to learn from the messages contained within them and yet not feel they are being personally blamed. The stories can be developed to contain health messages about AIDS and can be followed by discussion of the lessons learnt. An existing fable can be told in its entirety, and then the first question can be:

“This is a very old story and yet it has messages for us even today. What do you think it can tell us about AIDS and the effect it will have on our community?”

Having got people to think about what the fable means in terms of AIDS, have them think about what they can do to change things for the better.

Storytelling is a traditional method of providing information and discussion topics. It can be made to fit a particular culture and, as it only takes one person to tell the story, it is also cost effective. The same situations that were developed for your role plays, dramas and puppet shows can be used for developing a story.

Use of traditional people and figures from your culture’s storytelling tradition can add to the effectiveness of the story. In Zambia, for example, they use a rabbit called Kalulu, who is famous for wisdom in their folklore, to give information about AIDS.

Use of videos

Videos, if they are available and if you have the necessary material, are a useful way of promoting discussion. They should not be used as a teaching session in themselves. Leaving a group of young people in front of a video and then allowing no time for discussion does not allow them to work out how they feel about what they have seen or what they have learnt. The choice of video for the session is very important. Teaching videos (those which give facts and information rather than telling a story) can be taken in small sections: stop the video regularly to check whether the group has understood. Discuss the information as you go along. A storytelling video has more impact when people can see the story straight through and then discuss it afterwards. But you must watch the video before you show it to your group. Prepare some topics for discussion and think about which questions you are likely to be asked.

Before starting the activity, make sure that the equipment works, that everybody can see the screen from where they are sitting and that everyone can hear the sound. Check if you can easily stop and start the video player.

Picture A

Picture B

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