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.

Dar es Salaam, Tanzania – UNESCO is supporting the organization of a one-month anti-FGM campaign in selected districts within the five regions with high prevalence namely Manyara, Dodoma, Arusha, Mara and Singida. The campaign is organized with financial support from SDC project, Sida O3 Project and UNDAP II- VAWC One UN fund.

The campaign kicked off in Ngorongoro on May 28 and will include a 3-day capacity-building workshop to be conducted in collaboration with Loliondo FM, a UNESCO supported community radio, followed by official launch of the campaign on 31st May and an intergeneration dialogue on ending FGM practices and traditional to be aired live by Loliondo FM.

The workshop is meant to orient key anti-FGM campaigners including media practitioners with key messages where a major public campaign through five community radios within the top five regions will be carried out there after expected to reach 1 million people.

Community radios for the public campaign with regions in brackets include Loliondo FM (Arusha), ORS (Manyara), Dodoma FM (Dodoma will also cover Singida), Triple A FM (Arusha), Mazingira FM (Mara).

The key approaches for the Ngorongoro anti-FGM campaign include a Public Campaign through Community Radios highlighted where a series of community radio sessions will be developed and broadcasted targeting community leaders, law enforcers, medical personnel, religious leaders, Ngaribas and young people (particularly out of school girls.

The other approach will involve a School-based campaign, specifically targeting pupils, students, teachers, and school-parent committees from 20 schools in Loliondo division.

Simultaneously, a Community-based campaign will take place specifically targeting parents and caretakers in 14 selected villages in Loliondo division and will take the form of parent/caretakers village/sub-village sensitization meetings.

The campaign comes in June, a month considered as high season where parents utilize the long school holidays to circumcise their girls.

UNESCO organizes the anti FGM campaign in close collaboration with the Ngorongoro District Council, the Council of Masaai traditional leaders and the Network of Community Media in Tanzania (TADIO).

Through its socio-cultural approach, UNESCO’s initiatives have gained community support and achieved notable impact including change of mind-set of some of the traditional leaders and Ngaribas (the female circumcisers).

The anti-FGM campaign is a continuation of similar ones conducted in June and December 2017 where 10 girls were rescued from the cut, with two being rescued from being married off to old men as old as 68 years old.

In Tanzania, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is deeply rooted and grounded in cultural practices and beliefs, and is an integral part of the socialization process, particularly symbolic of the passage from childhood to adulthood in the Maasai, Kurya, Gogo, Nyiramba, Mbulu, Chagga and Pare tribes. According to the Tanzania Demographic and Health Survey and Malaria Indicator Survey Report (TDHS-MIS, 2015-16), one in ten women in Tanzania has been circumcised. The top five regions in Tanzania in terms of FGM prevalence with percentage in brackets are Manyara (58%), Dodoma (47%), Arusha (41%), Mara (32%) and Singida (31%).

FGM has many health effects including recurrent urinary and vaginal infections, fistula, chronic pain, infertility, haemorrhaging, epidermoid cysts, and difficult labor.7 It has also its psychological impact and abnormalities in the female sexual function.

Media enquiries: UNESCO Dar Office, Tanzania | Mathias Herman | +255 755 195 459 | m.herman@unesco.org

Juba, South Sudan – The Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MOGEI) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for The Right to Health for the Education Sector Campaign with South Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission (SSAC) and UNAIDS.

The signatories were Dr. Riak Gai, the Minister of Health; Dr. Nadia Dudi, the Minister of Culture, Youth and Sports and who signed on behalf of the education Minister Mr. Deng Deng; Dr. Esterina Novello, Chairperson of SSAC; and Mr. Michel Sidibe, Executive Director of UNAIDS. The United Nations Representative, Mr. Alain Noudehou and the UNESCO Representative to South Sudan, Mr. Sardar Umar Alam were among those that participated in the event.

The purpose of the MOU is to enhance cooperation between the two ministries, SSAC and the Joint UN Programme on AIDS (UNAIDS) to collaboratively develop and implement a strategy in line with the UNAIDS Fast Track Strategy, Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Sexual Reproductive Health, including tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis in the education sector.

The Executive Director of UNAIDS, Mr. Michel Sidibe is in the country to meet with the political leadership to advocate for resources and support for the HIV response in the current humanitarian situation in South Sudan. Mr. Sidibe noted that the education sector is critical in the HIV response as it provides access to information on prevention, treatment and reduction on the impact of the disease.

He further recommended to reduce stigma and discrimination which deters people seeking and utilising HIV services.

According MOH, only 32% of people living with HIV (PLHIV) in the country know their HIV status while only 14% of them are on treatment. These rates are extremely low as per the UNAIDS treatment for all strategy which targets 90%.

According to UNAIDS 2016 estimates, 40% of the 16,000 annual HIV infection were among young people aged 15-24 years. Close to 60% of the new infections are among females and also have higher records of deaths compared to males. However, while AIDS-related deaths declined by 1% between 2010 and 2016 among girls and women, there was an increment by 12% among boys and men. About 70% of PLHIV on treatment are women.

The MOU is anchored on the ESA Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Sexual Reproductive Health for adolescents and young people which was endorsed 8 December 2013 by 20 countries in Eastern and Southern Africa including South Sudan.

Since 2013, education managers have collaborated with partners to integrate CSE into the national curriculum, developed learners’ and teachers’ materials, sensitised community on CSE through media and supported the training of over 500 in-service teachers.

Meanwhile the MOH, is currently reviewing the Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health Strategy with partners to ensure that critical areas are integrated into community programmes such as the Boma Health Initiative. The Boma Health Initiative provides for sustainable delivery of essential health care and public health programmes at the community level.

UNESCO is one of the key stakeholders in delivering CSE in the country.  This ground-breaking event demonstrates national commitment by the two ministries and partners as well as a promising coordinated response to step up efforts to realise the 2020 targets stipulated in the aforementioned ESA Ministerial Commitment.

The targets include increasing access to CSE and SRH services. It proposes to eliminate gender-based violence, child marriage and all new HIV infections amongst adolescents and young people. It also stipulates commitment to reduce teenage pregnancies by 75% as well as increase comprehensive knowledge of HIV prevention among young people.

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.

By: Sanet L. Steenkamp, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Namibia

The core responsibility of education systems is imparting the fundamental building blocks of learning, namely the ‘3 R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Yet national education authorities are increasingly recognizing that while their core responsibility remains crucial, they must also reach beyond it.

Education systems are being called upon to not only help our children learn essential knowledge and skills to navigate an increasingly complex and inter-connected world, but also protect them from inaccurate information driven by myths and value-laden taboos, or harmful social and cultural norms, such as those surrounding gender and power in inter-personal relationships.The core responsibility of education systems is imparting the fundamental building blocks of learning, namely the ‘3 R’s: reading, writing and arithmetic. Yet national education authorities are increasingly recognizing that while their core responsibility remains crucial, they must also reach beyond it.

Fulfilling this responsibility means empowering young people with the knowledge, skills and attitudes for them to be able to make healthy decisions in all aspects of their lives – including their sexual and reproductive health. In Namibia, great emphasis has been placed on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) as an important component in achieving this goal.

Learning about sexuality and relationships is good for young people

The 2016 Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report indicated that comprehensive sexuality education was one of the most pressing and universal priorities for the health, well-being and development of young people.

For too many young people, the journey to adulthood can be an obstacle course of challenges. The leading cause of death for girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years globally is complications from pregnancy, unsafe abortion and childbirth. More than 2 million adolescents are living with HIV. Three in four new HIV infections in adolescents happen in sub-Saharan Africa, and for every five adolescent boys living with HIV, there are seven girls. In Namibia, teenage pregnancy rates among 15- to 19-year-olds is 19%, according to the 2013 National Demographic Health Survey.

Read the full article here >>>

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 African Youth and Adolescents Networking on Population and Development (AfriYAN) 2017 General Assembly and capacity building workshop for young people in Eastern and Southern Africa opens in Addis Ababa, Ethopia.

Drawing youth leaders from Eastern and Southern Africa, the General Assembly will run from the 7th to the 9th of November 2017 will usher in a new cohort of young leaders whilst bringing in renewed energy and robust innovation that will guide AfriYAN ESA to the next level of relevance, influence and accountability.

Under the guidance of UNFPA, Southern African AIDS Trust (SAT), UNESCO and other development and implementing partners, the General Assembly aims to foster the development of a better coordinated,managed and structured network that will further the mandate of AfriYAN ESA at regional and national level in the East and Southern Africa region.