Harare, Zimbabwe – 24 October 2019: Over 2,000 students, teachers and civil society representatives  convened at the Makomo Primary School in the outskirts of Harare for the national launch of the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy (EUP).

In attendance at the festive event were high level dignitaries and government officials including Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa, First Lady of Zimbabwe; Prof. Hubert Gijzen, UNESCO’s Regional Director for Southern Africa; Angelica Broman, First Secretary at the Swedish Embassy in Harare; the Ministers of Education, Health, and Provincial Affairs; and heads of UN agencies and NGOs.

As part of the ESA Ministerial commitment endorsed in December 2013, the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign aims to empower young people, especially girls, with the knowledge, information and support to prevent EUP.

Today we are launching the Lets Talk! Campaign on early and unintended pregnancy I want to recognise the young people, the learners present here in such large numbers this

[campaign]

is about you, this is about your future, your rights, and your lives said Prof. Gijzen.

The key message “let’s talk about pregnancy at the right time” was echoed through narratives of shared responsibility of families, communities, and institutions to address the root causes of EUP.

The Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, Prof. Paul Mavhima said that the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign is coming just at the right time when his ministry is implementing multiple interventions that respond directly to the plight of the girl child, most notably, the prioritisation of the Education Amendment Bill. He highlighted that among the Bill’s key provisions are efforts to outlaw all forms of discrimination in schools including on the basis of pregnancy. To this end, the Bill provides for all learners to have access to quality education after experiencing pregnancy.

For too long, when an adolescent becomes pregnant, we have pointed the finger at her. It is time that we pointed the finger at ourselves. If a girl gets pregnant that is because we have not provided her with the information, education, training and support she needs to prevent herself becoming pregnant, said Dr. Obadiah Moyo, Minister of Health and Child Care.

Adolescent pregnancy remains a major challenge and contributor to maternal and child mortality, fuelled by grinding poverty across rural and urban communities in Zimbabwe. Perinatal deaths are 50% higher among babies born to mothers under the age of 20 years and adolescent mothers are more likely to have underweight babies at risk of infections and death during the early stages of infancy.

The First Lady, Amai Auxillia Mnangagwa concluded the launch event by saying the Lets Talk campaign [is] an opportunity to amplify our actions  strategic partners [are] supporting the Governments efforts to ensure that the campaign reaches all parts of the country. Let us all amplify our voices against EUP in churches, schools, health centres, community meetings, workplaces and social spaces. Lets Talk! Pregnancy at the Right Time.  Lets Talk Health, Education and Rights for Pregnant Girls.

To learn more about the “Let’s Talk!” Campaign, please visit youngpeopletoday.org or follow us on twitter @ LetsTalkEUP

UNESCO officially launched the Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) Programme in Malawi in partnership with the Ministry of Science, Education and Technology and the Norwegian Embassy in Lilongwe on 10 October 2019. The launch culminated in the agreement signing ceremony between UNESCO and the Government of Norway to accelerate the O3 programme.

The O3 launch was attended by UNESCO’s Regional Director for Southern Africa, Prof. Hubert Gijzen, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. William Susuwele Banda, the, the Norwegian Ambassador to Malawi, Steinar Egil Hagen, and the UN Resident Coordinator, Maria Jose Torres Macho. Representatives from civil society organisations and the media were present along with students, teachers and parents at the Mphungu Primary School in Lilongwe.

Since the commencement of the O3 programme in Malawi, the government has been an instrumental partner in advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights to its population. Despite these notable measures, over 70% of new HIV infections are among young women (15-19 years). Pregnancy and childbirth complications continue to be the leading cause of death among young women in Malawi.

The Norwegian Ambassador, Steinar Egil Hagen stated we are today at the starting point of an important partnership, with our friends in the Malawi government, and with the UN-family and working on an important topic, comprehensive sexuality education”…”together, we can make a difference for children in Malawi.

The funding provided by the Norwegian government will allow Malawi to deepen the scope of existing activities to attain full-scale implementation of Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) supported by inter-sectoral partners and UNESCO Malawi.

As we sign the Agreement for this project, we are making a public declaration that now more than ever, we need to transform the lives of children and young people. We are saying we want to work together in eradicating these challenges. Eradicating gender-based violence, early and unintended pregnancy, reduce new HIV infections, and increase young peoples knowledge said Prof. Gijzen, UNESCO’s Regional Director.

UNESCO has been working across the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region to improve sexual and reproductive health outcomes for adolescents and young people through scaling up CSE. The provision and access to CSE resources are expected to promote and sustain risk-reducing behaviour among young people.

Held annually on 5 October since 1994, World Teachers’ Day commemorates the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO Recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers. This Recommendation sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment, and teaching and learning conditions. This years theme is “Young Teachers: The Future of the Profession.” We recognise the critical  importance  of  reaffirming  the  value  of  the  teaching  mission.  UNESCO works with teachers in many different capacities. We have compiled some teacher profiles to highlight some amazing individuals doing great work in their communities and embody this years theme.

Mr. Challi Bejiga Mekaneyesus Primary school Addis Ababa

Mr. Challi Bejiga is a trained  school director. He is leading  the Mekaneyesus Primary school in Addis Ababa since 2016. In addition, he is a Chemistry teacher at grades 7 and 8.   He dedicates his time in helping students learn the sciences  for better lives.  He strongly believes that the young is the future of the nation . Mr. Challi has  the vision to make the school one of the five best schools in Addis Ababa.

Nqobile Ngwenya is a vibrant 35 year 0ld, young teacher who teaches Life Skills Education at Nhlangano Central High School. She also teaches English and Siswati. She has benefitted from the UNESCO Connect With Respect (CWR)  capacity building workshop which was held on the 30th September-3rd October, 2019, at Eswatini.

Nqobile Ngwenya teacher at Nhlangano Central High School

She presented one of the CWR activities at the workshop with so much vigor and exhibiting such a passion for the profession. Whe presenting she had the audience at her finger tips. She was able to fully engage the teachers  through song, play and fun. When interviewed about her strategy she said ‘learning through play’ was her teaching approach. She emphasized that she uses this strategy when teaching her learners at her school and she has since realized that learners enjoy learning in this way and it makes them cooperate. She also expressed how she does not experience behavior problems in her classes. This mentioned that this is despite the fact that one of the classes she teaches in the school is labelled as a ‘naughty’ class. She also revealed that she has a very close relationship with her learners and they view her as their second mother. She was of the impression that through this capacity building exercise she has been equipped with more skills and believes they will enable her to change the learners overall behavior even beyond her classes.

Priscilla Chete lives in Ndilande, Blantyre

Priscilla Chete is a 35 years old teacher at Njamba Community Day Secondary School in Blantyre. She has been in the teaching profession for 10 years. Priscilla is a holder of a Master of Arts degree in Development Studies which she obtained in Chancellor College in 2018. She also holds a bachelor of Arts in Education from Mzuzu University with English as her Major subject.

Priscilla who is also a senior teacher, holds different portfolios such as examination officer, sports coordinator as well as stores clerk. As a teacher, Priscilla belongs to Teachers Union of Malawi where she also serves as a youth national Chairperson. By virtue of being a teacher, she also chairs the Malawi Congress of Trade Unions youth Department.

Priscilla finds fulfilment of her work when she sees the students who have gone through her teaching progressing in life, specifically if they are selected to continue with their education in Universities and colleges. Some of the students that Priscilla has groomed have made it to universities like College of Medicine, Chancellor College and Mzuzu universities. Some are progressing up to Masters level.


Miss Hazvineyi Koroka
Nettleton Junior School, Harare

Ms. Koroka is in her early 30’s.She trained as a primary school teacher, having completed a diploma in teaching at Morgen Zintec Teachers’ College in 2002. She started teaching Grade 1 students at Mbare Primary School in Harare soon after finishing college. Currently she is a Grade 1 teacher at Nettleton Junior School. She loves teaching and she believes it is her vocation. In fact, she was attracted to the teaching profession because back in her high school days, when teaching was still a noble profession and many young people aspired to be like their teachers who well respected in the community.

To attract, recruit and keep young people in the teaching profession, there is need for Government to restore the lost status of teaching as a noble profession by addressing remuneration and conditions of living for teachers. Currently, it is lowly paid and teachers are struggling to make ends meet (As a young profession, I feel shortchanged by the system in that I cannot afford to meet Maslow’s hierarchy of needs from the below poverty datum line salary I am earning. What more of self-actualizing?) To cap it all, society generally looks down upon teachers to the extent that even our learners do not aspire to be teachers when they grow up when we do career guidance sessions!

UNESCO in partnership with UNFPA, SAfAIDS, and Save the Children Sweden launched the Let’s Talk! campaign on the 31st of July 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.Let’s Talk! is a social and behaviour change campaign to reduce early and unintended pregnancies (EUP) across 21 countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region, which has one of the highest adolescent fertility rates in the world. The campaign will be implemented until December 2020, and envisions an Eastern and Southern Africa region where all adolescents are empowered and have the knowledge, information, agency and support to prevent early and unintended pregnancy and reach their full potential

The campaign launch was attended by at least 150 participants from 13 countries across ESA region, which included the SADC PF Secretary General, South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Lesotho Minister of Education and Training, Zimbabwe Deputy Minister of Primary and Secondary Education, and other government officials from Ministry of Education and Health; #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador DJ Zinhle, Sida, Packard Foundation, UNESCO, UNFPA, SAfAIDS, Save the Children, and PCI Media representatives. Media practitioners from print and electronic media houses across the 13 countries also attended the launch.

The #LetsTalkEUP Ambassador, renowned DJ Zinhle, graced the stage at the launch and performed a song which she has produced exclusively for the campaign. The song features the campaign pillars of health, education and rights, within the context of EUP.  It will aim to engage and excite young people across the region, building upon DJ Zinhle’s immense popularity and appeal. 

The launch event overall introduced the campaign to the high-level stakeholders and raised awareness on the magnitude of EUP, as well as the need to implement preventative actions to address its devastating social and economic impacts, especially for the lives of adolescent girls and young women, but also men and boys and societies as a whole.

Speaking at the launch, UNESCO Regional Director, Professor Hubert Gijzen applauded governments for their dedication and commitment towards prioritising the lives of future generations. He called upon governments and other stakeholders to coordinate efforts in addressing Early and Unintended Pregnancy, as this is an issue that is compounded and affected by multiple factors including, policies, cultural practices, and the health and education systems.

The South Africa Minister of Basic Education, Honourable Angelina Motshekga emphasised that EUP has adverse impact on educational opportunities, achievements and future of adolescents, especially the girl child. She reiterated the need for coordinated efforts to accelerate progress in the prevention and management of EUP in the country as well as regionally. The “Let’s Talk!” campaign will continue to be rolled out at the country level in the coming weeks, including country-specific launch events across the ESA region

On 17 July 2019 WFP, UNAIDS and UNESCO joined forces to honour the legacy of Nelson Mandela through a charitable act of kindness. As a way to commemorate Mandela Day 2019 collaboratively the agencies were able to collect a wide range of items for donation to the Frida Hartley Shelter ranging from clothing and toys. Mandela Day calls on us all, every day, to make the world a better place. This year’s theme for the International Mandela Day is #ActionAgainstPoverty.

Agency representatives from WFP, UNAIDS and UNESCO visited the Frida Hartley Shelter prior to the day of commemoration and met with Cheryl Hlabane, the centre Operations Manager who is doing a great job and needs support in many areas in addition to the pressing needs for the shelter such as food, toiletries and clothing.

The Frida Hartley Shelter aims to empower, educate and enhance the  intellectual capacity for homeless, displaced and/or abused women (and their  children) to improve their confidence so they can find employment,  start their own businesses and regain their dignity in society.

The shelter provides a home environment where women work together on domestic chores, cleaning, and cooking while receiving training and support to seek employment and independence. On average, women and their children stay at the shelter for 3 – 6 months, with many offering part-time volunteer support, and counselling once they have left the shelter. Over seven hundred women and children have been helped at the shelter. For more information on the shelter and how to assist click here.

Global Learning Symposium on ending school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) will be held from 26 to 28 March 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. The event is timely in the context of a renewed global conversation around continued gender inequality, triggered in 2018 by the #MeToo movement and an increased commitment around the world to make schools safer places.

The Global Learning Symposium is a biennial event held by the Global Working Group to End School-Related Gender-Based Violence, co-hosted by UNESCO and UNGEI. The learning symposium aims to help partners, including representatives from Ministries of Education, civil society, UN agencies, education unions and research, develop a collective understanding of SRGBV and find solutions to address it.

School-related gender-based violence can be defined as acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in and around schools, perpetrated because of gender norms and stereotypes, and enforced by unequal power dynamics.

Read more of the article here.

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