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Access to sexuality education remains one of the vital approaches to mitigating negative health outcomes for young people. Several research studies have shown that young people typically go through the challenging process of growing up with little or no sexual and reproductive health information. Much of what they know is mainly received from peers who are often ignorant about these issues and provide either erroneous or inadequate information.
The International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) held in 1994 set the goal of ensuring universal voluntary access to a full range of reproductive health information and services by 2015. One objective of the Programme of Action adopted by 179 governments is “to promote
adequate development of responsible sexuality.” It recommends that full attention be given to meeting the educational and service needs of adolescents to enable them to deal in a positive and responsible way with their sexuality.
“Support should be given to integral sexual education and services for young people, with the support and guidance of their parents and in line with the Convention on the Rights of the Child…” “Educational efforts should begin within the family unit, in the community and in the schools at an appropriate age, but must also reach adults, in particular men, through non-formal education and a variety of community-based efforts. “
-ICPD Programme of Action, para. 7.37.
In line with the ICPD Programme of Action, the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA, has decades of experience in educating young people about various aspects of sexual and reproductive health, family life, interpersonal relationships and gender issues. UNFPA is the world’s largest international source of funding for population and reproductive health programmes. The agency works with governments and non-governmental organizations in over 140 countries to support programmes
that help women, men and young people protect their sexual and reproductive health.
In the past, Population Family Life Education (POP/FLE) curricula and programmes were primarily focused on the biology of reproduction with emphasis on fertility reduction.
The interplay between gender relations and sociocultural contexts of the individual’s life was given little or no recognition. The curricula also tended to approach sexuality from a pregnancy and disease-mitigation standpoint thus reinforcing a somewhat negative view of sexuality.
However, sexuality education addresses the biological,socio-cultural, psychological, and spiritual dimensions of sexuality from the cognitive domain (information); the affective domain (feelings, values, and attitudes); and the behavioral domain (communication and decision-making
skills). (Guidlines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Nigeria).
The ICPD Programme of Action recognizes that “Human sexuality and gender relations are closely interrelated and together affect the ability of men and women to achieve and maintain sexual health and manage their reproductive lives.Responsible sexual behaviour, sensitivity and equity in gender relations, particularly when instilled during the formative years,enhance and promote respectful and harmonious partnerships between men and women”
ICPD Programme of Action, para. 7.34.
In line with this paradigm shift and following the National Council on Education’s approval of the Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE) curriculum (formerly National Sexuality Education Curriculum), the UNFPA office in Nigeria has supported the State Ministry of Education in 12 of the UNFPA focal states across Nigeria to organize the Training of Master Trainers for the new FLHE curriculum and programme. These states include Abia, Anambra, Bauchi, Borno, Delta, Edo,
Gombe, Nasarawa, Ogun, Osun, Plateau and Rivers.
TEACHING METHODOLOGIES THAT WORK
“Research has shown that sexuality education programmes targeted at young people are most effective when they: give a clear, consistent message based on accurate information focus on reducing sexual behaviours that lead to unintended pregnancy and infection are specific to age and culture are based on a theoretical framework proven to change health behaviours use teaching methods that involve students are skill-based and address social pressures motivate and train teachers to participate”
- Douglas Kirby, UNFPA State of World Population 2003
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UNFPA's Renewed Agenda For Action
The partnership between UNFPA and the State Ministry of Education in the focal states is a particularly exciting development in view of the widespread coverage across the country. The focal states that participated in the
training represent almost 50 percent of the total number of states in Nigeria. National coverage is further enhanced by the number of schools that are likely to be covered after the step-down training in each state. This is thus, a
very significant step in scaling up the implementation of sexuality education and ensuring young people’s access to life-enhancing information and skills. With the trained teachers adequately prepared for classroom activities,
UNFPA has identified several action steps to facilitate the implementation process:
1. Advocacy for and planning with key stakeholders and collaborating partners including Parent-Teacher Associations, media, religious leaders, community leaders, association of school principals and Nigerian.
Union of Teachers.
2. Baseline survey on the current sexual and reproductive health status of young people to facilitate post implementation and evaluation.
3. Development of other monitoring mechanisms for classroom implementation.
4. Building technical capacity of school teachers to teach FLHE in Project schools (step-down training).
5. Development, production and distribution of the school scheme of work which serves as the framework for subject integration.
6. Development of students’ textbooks and other teaching aids such as posters and charts.
Family Life And Sex Education Resource Center Wishes UNFPA Successful Implementation.
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