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.

UNESCO, UNAIDS, UNFPA and the government of Cote d’Ivoire hosted a session on the Revised International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (ITGSE). This session took place on the side lines of the 2017 International Conference on AIDS and Sexuality Transmitted Infection’s in Africa (ICASA).

The session was moderated by Dr Catherine Sozi, UNAIDS Director of the Regional Support Team for Eastern and Southern Africa (RTESA) and graced by Honourable Kandia Camara –  Cote d’Ivoire Minister of National Education & Technical Education, Honourable Mokhele Moletsane – Lesotho Minister of Education & Training, Honourable Michael Lopuke Lotyam – South Sudan Undersecretary of General Education and Instruction and Ms Lorence Kabasele – African Youth and Adolescents Networking on Population and Development (AfriYAN) President for Eastern and Southern Africa.

During the session, UNESCO underscored the importance of comprehensive sexuality education, and acknowledged the Guidance as a means to address and dispel myths and misconceptions around comprehensive sexuality education (CSE). It was noted that the ITGSE incorporates new evidence on the benefits of CSE for health and education outcomes of children and young people. Further, the revised version speaks to issues of a changing world such as ICTs and social media as avenues through which CSE can be taught to young people and adolescents; and shows how CSE is not only limited to the formal school setting but also extends to non-formal settings which involve community engagement from the parents to the cultural and religious leaders.

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.

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.

#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

Friday 3 November 2017 from 2pm to 2:45 pm, UNESCO HQ, Hall Ségur

The event will launch the project “Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future”, in the presence of, and with interventions from, UNESCO Director-General, Ms Irina Bokova, and the Minister of Education of Sweden, Gustav Fridolin.

Made possible with support from Sweden, the three-year project aims to improve sexual and reproductive health, gender and education outcomes for adolescents and young people in the Sub-Saharan Africa region through the delivery of good quality comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).

Details

Type of Event: Special Event
Start: 03.11.2017 14:00 local time
End 03.11.2017 14:45 local time
Focal point: Herat, Joanna
Organizer: UNESCO and Sweden
Contact: Cara Delmas, c.delmas@unesco.org
Country: France
City: Paris
Room: Hall Segur
Language of Event: English, French
Estimated number of participants: 40
Link 1 Education for Health and Well-Being