Every two years, the Ministry of Culture organizes the National Cultural Festival in the province of Inhambane in Mozambique. The festival hosts domestic and international artists, cultural agents, and practitioners for a weeklong celebration of diversity. This year, the festival took place from the 13th to 20th of August and included HIV/AIDS awareness workshops that were jointly organized by UNESCO and UNFPA and led by Associação Coalizão da Juventude Moçambicana.

By focusing on scaling up Comprehensive Sexuality Education and capacity building in Eastern and Southern Africa, the workshops provided participants access to high quality sexuality education, increasing their knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and rights. About 50 young people attended each workshop, which were led by Associação Coalizão da Juventude Moçambicana, an NPO that works in the area of Sexual and Reproductive Health for adolescents and youth, and whose focus is primarily on young girls, HIV/AIDS and gender issues.

“The workshops raised awareness on various issues of Sexual and Reproductive Health and on emerging issues related to HIV and AIDS prevention. Sessions were interactive and encouraged participants to make confident and educated decisions about their sexual health. Young people learned and practiced how to use both male and female condoms and were able to speak freely and contribute to discussions,” said Angelina Tivane with UNESCO.

“The Festival provided an opportunity to host these important workshops on Comprehensive Sexuality Education. The sessions highlighted important issues that directly effect young people in Mozambique, issues such as sexuality and reproductive health and HIV and AIDS prevention.”

The National Cultural Festival showcases the contemporary and ethnic heritage of Mozambique, as well as the commitment of the State to cultural diversity and to programmes, such as Comprehensive Sexuality Education. Going forward, a level of collaboration and innovation with other sectors, such as industry, commerce and finance, will further solidify the country’s commitment to the economy of cultural production, but also national development.

5 October 2014 marks the 20th anniversary of World Teachers’ Day.

Education is only as good as its teachers. They are central to ensuring quality education for our future generations. Training our teachers is a top priority, especially when integrating new curriculum, such as sexuality education, into the school systems. We recognize the need to equipping and empowering teachers with the right competencies to deliver quality sexuality education.

Challenges facing teachers

In many cases and in various countries, teachers work without resources or proper training, often teaching without comprehensive knowledge or comfort level related to topics of sexuality, especially in a youth-friendly manner. Preconceived cultural attitudes and perceptions also shape how these topics – including teenage pregnancy, condom use and HIV – are taught in the classroom.

Through the Ministerial commitment, policies, legal frameworks and implementation practices will help to improve these situations in the future.

Piloting the first teacher training workshop for comprehensive sexuality education

From 26 August to 6 September, UNESCO and Advocates for Youth (AFY, USA) conducted the first-of-its-kind piloting project: teacher-training workshops in Kampala, Uganda. The workshops aimed to provide educators in Uganda with the appropriate knowledge and skills regarding HIV/AIDS, Life Skills, Sexuality Education and Adolescent Sexual Reproductive Health. This foundation is important for teachers in order to be able to support the scaling up of sexuality education in pre and in-service teacher training not only in Uganda but also across Eastern and Southern Africa.

The workshop focused on pretesting a pre-service teacher education module that has been developed by UNESCO to be used in the ESA region. Finally, the outcomes of the workshop allowed UNESCO to discuss strategies for rolling out the module at a country level.

Workshop Participants from across the Education Sector

Participants from the Ministry of Education, Curriculum Development Centre, Teachers, Scouts Association, UNAIDS, UNFPA and CSO for young people all attended the workshop. The module was well received by participants and great feedback was obtained that will be used to improve the workshops going forward.

The workshop provided great insight into the next steps involved in rolling out the comprehensive sexuality education program and even more importantly, provided a foundation for implementation across Eastern and Southern Africa.

We invite you to join us in celebrating our teachers on 5 October for World Teachers’ Day. Investing in teachers means investing in the future.