UNESCO launched a campaign to reduce Early and Unintended Pregnancy (EUP) in Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) on 20th June 2018 during the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Ministers of Education Meeting in Durban, South Africa.

The launch of the campaign is part of the ESA Ministerial commitment, which was endorsed in December 2013 by Ministers of Education and Health in the ESA region. The commitment has prompted significant progress by Member States to address the needs of adolescents and young people with respect to ensuring access to life skills-based HIV and sexuality education and youth-friendly SRH services. One of the targets of the ESA Commitment was to reduce EUP by 75% by the year 2020. In the 2017 Technical Coordination Group (TCG) meeting of the ESA Commitment, countries agreed to focus on the issue of EUP as an area requiring intervention across all countries and there was a clear recommendation to launch a Regional EUP campaign. Following this recommendation, UNESCO commissioned a situation analysis on EUP in 10 countries in ESA to assess the magnitude of the problem in the region. The study revealed that EUP in ESA is very high with at least 15% of 15-19 year olds ever having been pregnant.

Ministers at the launch of the campaign were invited to approve the recommendations from the situation analysis while renewing their commitment to attainment of the ESA commitment targets. In addition, to mandate country ESA Technical working groups to strengthen implementation and reporting of country progress and to commission the SADC Secretariat and its partners to support implementation of a Regional Campaign on Early and Unintended Pregnancy.

Based on the findings of the situational analysis, the campaign will have the following objectives,

  1. Advocate for the right of girls to complete education through the development and operationalisation of EUP prevention, management and re-entry policies.
  2. Advocate for the delivery of CSE that develops learners’ knowledge and skills to prevent pregnancy through integrating content on pregnancy prevention, access to contraceptives, gender equality and power dynamics within relationships.
  3. Increase adolescent access to health education and services (incl. contraception) through establishment of referral system between schools and health facilities.
  4. Eliminate school related gender based violence and engage boys and young men in learning and practicing pregnancy prevention.
  5. Shift cultural norms that put girls at risk of EUP and promote parent-child communication about sexual health

The findings from the situation analysis are summarised in the following video, which was also played during the launch of the campaign.

Government officials from ministries of education and health from 20 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa met from 18 and 19 June 2018 in Pretoria, South Africa to review the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Commitment progress. The meeting brought together core members of the technical coordinating group, select civil society organisations (CSO) at country and regional levels, United Nations, SADC PF, and development partners.

The Technical Coordinating Group (TCG), under the leadership of UNESCO and UNFPA, with support from UNAIDS, the Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) and the East African Community (EAC) Secretariats, plays a key role in the management of the ESA Commitment process and the implementation of the accountability mechanism. Each year, a TCG face-to-face meeting is held to discuss implementation and progress towards ESA Commitment targets.

Speaking at the meeting, UNESCO Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen, and his UNFPA counterpart for Eastern and Southern Africa Region, Dr. Julitta Onabanjo, applauded governments for their commitment, and called on the stakeholders to begin looking at post 2020 plans when the Commitment is meant to expire. They emphasised the need to accelerate efforts in providing CSE, and access to SRHR services for adolescents and young people.

This year’s TCG meeting focused on dialogue, debates and interactions, particularly on sharing the ‘how’ of HIV and Health Education and youth friendly health services provision. It highlighted tangible regional and national actions needed in the spirt of the Step Up and Deliver 2020 Roadmap. Moreover, in 2017, the TCG commissioned the CSO Platform to produce a regional report on the implementation of the ESA Commitment, looking at issues of accountability, coordination, resources, and youth leadership. The report formed the framework for discussion at the TCG. The meeting also agreed on the roll-out of the proposed early and unintended pregnancy campaign resulting from a situational analysis, which was commissioned in 2017.

15 June, 2018 – Harare, Zimbabwe
40 Master Trainers from Swaziland, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Tanzania, as well as national partner, regional and global organisations,  have been involved in a workshop to adapt and pilot the Connect with Respect Tool in the four countries, aiming to end School-Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV). The tool is a result of experience sharing by the Global Working Group to end SRGBV, with the partnership of UNESCO and UNGEI, sharing specific lessons from a classroom programme for early secondary school level entitled, Connect with Respect: Preventing gender‐based violence in schools that was developed for Asia and Pacific teachers to help them deal with SRGBV in their local context and to teach secondary grade students to understand the causes and effects of gender‐based violence, and thereby, to develop their skills for building respectful relationships.

The workshop that took place in Harare, Zimbabwe from 11 to 15 June 2018 came as a result of analysis and consultations on the situation of SRGBV in the ESA region in March 2017. Hosted by UNESCO, countries in the region examined entry points based on existing SRGBV prevention and response efforts within the education sector. In addition, activities in the Connect-With-Respect-Tool were reviewed within the context of East and Southern Africa, paving the way for the Master of Trainers workshop to pilot the tool in the region.

The workshop in Harare, Zimbabwe sought to provide an opportunity for education systems in the region to deploy a well‐developed, evidence informed resource for use in classroom prevention education, and for schools to participate in research trials, which will help to provide knowledge about impact and effectiveness. Particularly, the workshop aimed to:

  • Provide a tailored version of Connect-with-Respect tool,
  • Investigate whether Connect with Respect produces positive changes in knowledge, attitudes
    and behaviour,
  • Collect regional data on effective programming, informing future investments by the education
    systems in the prevention of SRGBV,
  • Develop the capacity of the region to deliver and evaluate educational programs, and
  • Encourage and enable education systems to provide SRGBV education to schools.

The workshop Master Trainers participating in the workshop included education officials and teacher training experts who are expected to work as multipliers by extending training and technical support to teachers, head teachers and district education officials in pilot schools on the Connect-with-Respect tool.

The workshop was delivered by trainers from the Graduate School of Education Youth Research Centre at the University of Melbourne, Australia, as well as from the four pilot countries. The training content focused on;

  • Understanding the patterns of GBV,
  • Raising Awareness about GBV,
  • Skills needed for positive gender relationships, and
  • Using a whole‐school approach to positive gender relations.

As follow-up, Ministries of Education (MoE) in the four piloting countries are expected to take the leading role in facilitating Connect with Respect trial activities. MoEs will work with UNESCO to identify their needs to meet all requirements of the pilot exercise.

Zimbabwe launched its School Health Policy on 11th June 2018 in Harare as a strategic means to promote positive health determinants while preventing and mitigating health risks among learners.

Jointly developed by the Ministries of Health and Child Care and Primary and Secondary Education, the policy has the vision of “A primary and secondary education system with an enabling environment for the provision of equitable, sustainable and quality health services for all learners.”

Key components of the policy include:

  • Competency based health education
  • Psychosocial support services
  • Safe and sanitary school environment
  • Disaster risk management
  • School based health and nutrition services
  • School – family – community health linkage services
  • Support facilities and services for learners with special needs; and
  • Health promotion for school staff

The launch which was held under the theme, “Ensuring a healthy mind in a healthy body’, was attended by the Ministers of Health and Child Care, and Primary and Secondary Education, other senior Government Officials, members of the UN family, teachers, healthy professionals, development partners and civil society representatives.

Speaking at the launch, the Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof. Paul Mavima, said he was pleased that the policy was finally being launched after a long period of consultations with parents, learners and stakeholders in both the education and health sectors.

“The policy provides mechanisms to coordinate a systematic approach to addressing health issues for learners in our schools,” he said.

In his remarks, the Minister of Health and Child Care, David Parirenyatwa said, “a comprehensive school health programme denotes a set of policies, procedures and activities set to protect, promote and support the health and welfare of pupils and staff which include the provision of health services, healthy school environment, life skills, health education and school nutrition”.

Speaking on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator, Mr. Bishow Parajuli, WFP Representative, Mr Eddie Rowe, said since the majority of adolescents and young people in Zimbabwe spend the most of their time in school, implementing a robust school health programme increases the reach of health promotion interventions in this age group.

“HIV remains a significant public health concern in Zimbabwe especially among adolescents and youths, therefore, the School Health Program provides an opportunity for us to step up HIV prevention efforts among young people, and to promote adherence for those young people who are already on treatment,” he said.

The report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry into Education and Training (1999) recommended the development of a school health policy. The development of the policy can be traced back to 2004. The impetus to finalise the policy was provided after the coming in of the Zimbabwe Curriculum Framework, 2015-2022, which acknowledges that healthy and happy learners learn better, while poor health can have a detrimental effect on school attendance and academic performance.

UN agencies in Zimbabwe including UNESCO, UNICEF, WHO and WFP supported the development of the policy. The Policy is seen as a bridge to engage the education sector in efforts to positively influence the educational, social and economic conditions that affect health. In addition, ensuring that a school-going-age population is healthy is key for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

For more information, please contact: l.halimani@unesco.org

 

Article from our Technical Coordination Group Member, SAfAIDS

Many of the young people who take part in youth groups like the Youth for Gender Norms Transformation (Y4GT) are eloquent in speaking about to HIV and gender-based violence, but for 16 year-old Somvubu High School student Nomdumo Moyo, the this topic is very broad and she chooses to look at it from a different perspective.

Speaking to SAfAIDS on the sidelines of a meeting at the school, the teen said discrimination was one of the major issues fueling violence among young people in Bubi area.

“When we talk of discrimination, we do not limit it to issues of HIV alone. Discrimination comes in different forms and affects young people negatively. For example, before the Y4GT programme was introduced in Inyathi, some pupils used to discriminate against others based on their family and economic backgrounds and this resulted in the other pupils not performing well during exams,” she said.

Nomdumo explained that with the training that she got, she was able to counsel students so that they stop discriminating against others based on their HIV status or poverty. She also said that on a number of occasions she has referred pupils with major problems to the two teachers who head the programme for further counselling.

Read more on the SafAIDS Website.

HARARE. UNESCO and the Ministry of Education & Training of the Kingdom of Swaziland organized a 4-day workshop from 6 to 9 March 2018, where about 45 education sector officials from Government, UN and civil society from 8 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa (Malawi, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya and Swaziland) met to discuss classroom interventions aimed at ending school related gender based violence. Focusing on the Connect with Respect tool that was initially developed by partners in South East Asia, meeting participants discussed issues around how SRGBV is perpetuated in the school setting, as well as positive interventions to address such violence.

The consultation was officially opened by the Swazi minister of education and training, Dr. Phineas Magagula.

The consultation was meant to raise awareness about school-related gender-based violence; sample the Connect with Respect (CWR) resource designed for students to discuss relevance to ESA context; build familiarity with method and content of violence prevention education; build awareness of other tools available in ESA on this issue; identify where change is needed to tailor CWR to suit context and culture in order to test it in interested countries; and consult about what teachers need in order to deliver education on preventing gender-based violence and managing safe, violence-free classrooms.

Speaking at the official opening, the Hon. Minister said that his government was committed to supporting the implementation of the adopted tool in order to address the challenge that most learners face-violence. “I have been at the forefront of the ESA CSE Ministerial Commitment at country and regional level and I am excited that this process is part of initiatives that will support the region towards addressing one of the ESA CSE Ministerial Commitment targets, that of eliminating gender based violence,” he said. At the same event, UNESCO’s regional officer for HIV and health education, thanked the government of Swaziland, through the minister for their commitment to supporting this work, and reiterated UNESCO commitment to ensuring that learners learn, and teachers teach in a safe and healthy environment free from violence or discrimination.

The consultation meeting for adapting the Connect with Respect tool will be followed by the field-testing of the modified tool with a selection of schools in Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Zambia and Tanzania in 2018, involving a cascade training of master trainers and teachers, mentoring support during implementation and monitoring of the pilot in the participating schools.

On January 15, 2018, the Honourable Minister for Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin, joined representatives from UNESCO, the Zambian Departments of General Education and Higher Education, government representatives from Ghana and Zambia, young people and UN partners in Lusaka to launch the “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” (O3) programme. The O3 Programme will support the delivery of good quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that empowers adolescents and young people aiming ultimately for a consistent reduction in new HIV infections, early and unintended pregnancies, gender-based violence, and child marriage. “Through this programme, we envision a sub-Saharan Africa where positive health, education and gender equality outcomes are a reality for children and young people” said Patricia Machawira, Regional Health and Education Advisor at UNESCO, “Young people are receiving confusing and conflicting messages about relationships, sex and gender. It’s critical that schools deliver scientifically accurate education that develops the skills, knowledge, attitudes and competencies needed to navigate a healthy transition to adulthood. Government and the education sector in sub-Saharan Africa have both an opportunity and an urgent responsibility to scale up sexuality education programs.”

Minister Fridolin speech during the O3 launch

Ministers who attended the O3 launch

Why is CSE important?

Evidence reveals that CSE, in or out of schools, does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour, or STI/HIV infection rates. Additionally, evidence shows that abstinence-only programmes fail to prevent early sexual initiation, or reduce the frequency of sex and number of partners among young people. In fact, newly published revised Guidance from the UN shows that good quality CSE can help young people delay their first sexual experience, and further leads to more responsible decisions including sexual consent and the use of condoms or contraception for those who are sexually active.

This evidence debunks certain arguments made against CSE and should allow for a strengthening of political will across sub-Saharan Africa to educate young people properly in order to help them overcome the challenges posed by sexual and reproductive health issues, which are particularly difficult during puberty, including issues around access to contraception, early pregnancy, gender-based violence, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV and AIDS.

“Every young person has the right to enjoy sexuality and Comprehensive Sexuality Education. This makes for important steps towards gender equality, and is therefore an investment in development, economy and society as a whole,” said Minister Fridolin, “Comprehensive Sexuality Education of good quality is never an issue that concerns only girls. To reach shared and equal responsibility and healthy attitudes, sexual and reproductive health and rights and Comprehensive Sexuality Education are as important for boys and men, as they are for girls and women.”

Minister Fridolin meeting with SAfAIDS partners

Minister Fridolin meeting with SAfAIDS partners

Zambia reaffirms its commitment to delivering CSE

While in Zambia, the Honourable Minister Fridolin engaged in a policy dialogue with senior representatives of Ministries of Education and Health from Zambia, Zimbabwe and Ghana. Minister Fridolin also visited community based programmes in Lusaka that provide health services to young people and offer platforms for youth engagement and advocacy for better sexual and reproductive health and rights.

With HIV prevalence among adults in Zambia at 11.6%, and concerns about high levels of teenage pregnancy affecting girls schooling in particular, Zambia’s Ministers of General and Higher Education have reaffirmed their commitment to delivering CSE to all children and young people as a cornerstone of their health promotion efforts. “Since 2013 we have worked intensively across many departments to bring higher quality comprehensive sexuality education to learners across Zambia.” said Honourable Minister of General Education, Dr. Dennis M. Wanchinga MP. “After revising curricula in 2013, we have trained over 65, 000 teachers in effective CSE delivery since 2014 either through face-to-face training or newly developed online

Minister Fridolin meeting with Ministers of Higher Education and General Education

platforms representing 65% of the total number of teachers in the country. Comprehensive Sexuality Education has been integrated in the national examinations for Grade 7, 9 and 12, and new text books for teacher and learners have been developed to support the curriculum.” Zambia’s investment in strengthening CSE positions the country as a champion on the African continent and a key partner for Sweden and UNESCO in the roll out of the new phase of the O3 programme.

Minister Fridolin meets with Key stakeholders

About the O3 programme:

With the support of the governments of Sweden and Ireland, the O3 Programme, delivered by UNESCO in collaboration with national governments, builds on current efforts by UNESCO to improve sexual and reproductive health, gender and education outcomes for adolescents and young people.

Between 2018 and 2020, the O3 Programme plans to reach 10.7 million learners, in 45 000 primary and secondary schools, 30 000 preservice teachers, and 186 000 in-service teachers. An additional 30 million people (parents, guardians, religious leaders, and young people out of school) will be reached through community engagement activities and 10 million young people through social and new media platforms.

South Africa is among 31 countries that will benefit from the UNESCO O3 Programme on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). The regional programme entitled, “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” is a three year (2018-2020) programme which aims to contribute towards reductions in new HIV infections, early and unintended pregnancies, gender based violence and child marriages.

South Africa is among the focus countries for this programme together with Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Nigeria, United Republic of Tanzania and Uganda. Networking countries include Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burundi, Chad, Congo, Ethiopia, Gabon, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, South Sudan, Swaziland, Togo, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

Funded by Sweden and Ireland to the tune of about US$10 million, the programme builds on the achievements of the landmark 2013 East and Southern Africa Ministerial Commitment, which has been instrumental in scaling-up comprehensive sexuality education and access to sexual and reproductive health services for young people. It will also share lessons and lay the basis for a similar political commitment in West and Central Africa in order to accelerate the implementation of CSE in that region.

As part of the programme, Sweden’s Minister of Education, Honourable Gustav Fridolin visited South Africa from 12-13 January 2018 to raise political attention to young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights, including young people’s access to comprehensive sexuality education. Other delegates who were part of the mission to South Africa include the Ghanaian Deputy Minister of Education Ms Barbara Asher, the SADC Secretariat, and senior government officials from Cote d’Ivoire and Swaziland.

During his visit, the Minister attended a youth dialogue on teen pregnancy in Johannesburg to create a better understanding of challenges faced by young people when they fall pregnant. At the end of the dialogue, there was a strong recommendation to bring parents on-board with regards to CSE and engagement of other sectors such as the religious sector. The Minister then had another dialogue with religious leaders in Pretoria that looked at the role of communities and religious leaders in CSE delivery.

He also attended a high-level policy dialogue on CSE organised by the Department of Basic Education in Pretoria.  The dialogue renewed participants’ understanding and engagement on CSE implementation across Sub-Saharan Africa. Ministerial collaboration to promote school and health facility linkages were also discussed.

The O3 programme will support the delivery of good quality CSE that empowers adolescents and young people, while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies needed to sustain positive education, health and gender equality outcomes. Between 2018 and 2020, the O3 programme will reach 10.7 million learners in 45 000 primary and secondary schools, 30 000 pre-service teachers and 186 000 in service teachers. An additional 30 million people (parents, guardians, religious leaders, and young people out of school) will be reached through community engagement activities and 10 million young people through social and new media platforms.

The UNESCO/Swedish funded project, “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” was officially launched in Paris, France on 3rd November 2017 at an event that also commemorated UNESCO and Sweden’s partnership in supporting positive health, gender and education outcomes for adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa.

The launch, which took place during the 39th session of UNESCO’s General Conference featured interventions by UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, the Minister for Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin, and Zambia’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, representing General Education Minister for Zambia, Dennis Wanchinga.

UNESCO Director-General, Irina Bokova, said the partnership between UNESCO and Sweden was empowering the youth of Africa to make informed and healthy decisions about their future.

“The link between education and health is absolutely unequivocal. Healthy learners are better learners. Better educated learners have the knowledge and skills to stay healthy,” said the Director-General.

Adolescents and young people in sub-Saharan Africa face many sexual and reproductive health challenges, including early and unintended pregnancy, HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, gender-based violence and child marriage. In the region, AIDS is the leading cause of death in young people aged 10-19 years, with adolescent girls and young women at disproportionate risk, acquiring HIV five to seven years earlier than men.

“Addressing the health challenges that undermine the well-being of sub-Saharan Africa’s young population is a top priority of Sweden’s development and foreign policy,” said the Minister for Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin.

“All adolescents and young people deserve the opportunity to develop the skills and competencies they need to reduce early and unintended pregnancies, eliminate gender-based violence and prevent HIV,” added the Minister.

Zambia’s Ambassador to UNESCO, Humphrey Chilu Chibanda, said he was pleased to join other African governments who will benefit from Sweden’s support to implement “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future”.

“The programme will support and accelerate our efforts and commitment to ensure that comprehensive sexuality education empowers adolescents and young people, while developing the skills, knowledge, attitudes, and competencies needed to sustain positive education, health and gender equality outcomes. We fully stand behind young people’s rights, lives and future,” he said.

Through “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future”, UNESCO and Sweden will support UNESCO Member States to provide adolescents and young people with comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) that promotes gender equality and human rights and addresses gender norms and stereotypes. The growing body of evidence confirms that well-implemented sexuality education programmes result in young people delaying age of first sex, reduced frequency of sex, reduced number of sex partners, and increased rates of condom use.

The programme directly contributes to the education, health and gender Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). It expands on existing work in Eastern & Southern Africa through the ESA Commitment, with new projects in West and Central Africa. It focuses on Kenya, Mozambique, Malawi, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, DRC and Nigeria, with the benefits set to extend to Benin, Chad, Congo, Gabon, Ghana, Lesotho, Niger, Mali, Senegal, Togo, Angola, Botswana, Madagascar, Ethiopia, Rwanda, South Africa, South Sudan, Swaziland, Zimbabwe, and Zambia.

Sweden has committed 79.7 million SEK (approximately 10 million USD) over the next three years to the “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future” project, bringing their total support for CSE to 220 million SEK (approximately 30 million USD) over an 8-year period.

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Panelists during an episode on Wanasa Dukuri

The media remains central in informing, educating and entertaining communities. In South Sudan, UNESCO and Smile Again Africa Development Organization (SAADO) are co-sponsoring a radio talk show on Comprehensive Sexuality Education titled Wanasa Dukuri aired every Wednesdays from 12-1 p.m. on Eye Radio station.

Wanasa Dukuri, meaning Straight Talk in Arabic, intends to create a platform to discuss challenges faced by young people which include peer pressure, early sexual debut, gender based violence, adolescent pregnancies, early marriage, HIV among other health related topics.

The programme which targets policy makers, teachers, young people parents and guardians calls for the provision of information and services for young people in a bid to have a well-informed youth populace that can realize positive health and education outcomes in South Sudan.

Wanasa Dukuri aims to reach out to over 1 million listeners with scientifically accurate, age and culturally appropriate information.[:]