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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.

 

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.

#YouthSRHNOW is a social media campaign to mobilise youth engagement in promoting action on commitments made by 20 East and Southern Africa countries in the ESA Commitment (2013), which calls for access to Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Youth Friendly Health Services for young people in the region. The campaign will run throughout November and much of December 2017.

The main hashtag used across all social media platforms will be #YouthSRHNOW. In addition, dialogue on Comprehensive Sexuality Education will rally around the call #NotWithoutCSE, while on Youth Friendly Health Services it will be #NotWithoutYFS.

Join us for this exciting campaign by following and engaging with our platforms on Twitter and Facebook today.

For more information, please contact Young People Today through: esacommitment@unesco.org

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As part of efforts to ensure all young people have access to comprehensive, life-skills based sexuality education, UNESCO screened a new video at the 18-July Eastern and Southern Africa Commitment Progress Review Meeting, on the side-lines of this year’s International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. The video, ‘Being a Young Person’, looks at the challenges young people face as they navigate the journey to adulthood, and outlines how comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), can make this journey easier, more certain and healthier.

[:pt]An initiative that brings together policy makers, young people and civil society to strengthen sexuality education and reproductive and sexual health services in eastern and southern Africa. By having adequate access to these services, young people are empowered to make their own decisions about their health, preventing HIV/AIDS and unexpected pregnancies.[:fr]An initiative that brings together policy makers, young people and civil society to strengthen sexuality education and reproductive and sexual health services in eastern and southern Africa. By having adequate access to these services, young people are empowered to make their own decisions about their health, preventing HIV/AIDS and unexpected pregnancies.[:]