Innovation around Sexual and Reproductive Health for Adolescents can Deliver Amazing Results

Interventions targeting school linkage between parents and their children can lead to improved communication on sexual and reproductive health issues. A study conducted by Child Health and Development Centre through the ÔÇ£Promoting Healthy Sexual Behaviours among Adolescent in Southern and Eastern Africa-Mobilising Schools, Parents and CommunitiesÔÇØ (PREPARE), has revealed that communication between parent and child increased and improved in the study schools.

The dissemination workshop was held at Fairway Hotel in Kampala on July 31st 2014. It was attended by representatives from schools where the intervention was implemented (control and case), National Curriculum Development Centre, Ministry of Education and Sports and Makerere University.

Opening the workshop, the Acting Director, Child Health and Development Centre, Dr. Herbert Muyinda said that sexuality and HIV/AIDS are important topics among adolescents. ÔÇ£There is increase of HIV prevalence among young people, yet there are many efforts to improve prevention of HIV in UgandaÔÇØ, he said.

Dr. Cecil Banura, one of the key researchers on the study said PREPARE was implemented in four universities in Africa and was funded by the EU. In Uganda, PREPARE was implemented in Wakiso and Kampala districts. It was implemented in 22 government-aided secondary mixed day schools offering co-education. ÔÇ£Rural and urban day scholars are exposed to risks everyday on their way to and back from schoolÔÇØ, she said.

She said PREPARE was a school-based intervention and focused on a learnerÔÇÖs component during Christian Religious Education (CRE) and English, as well as a parentsÔÇÖ component which taught communication skills. Since none of the teachers involved in the intervention was willing to talk about condoms and condom use, Naguru Teenage Information and Health Centre ably implemented the component.

Frequency and quality of communication are the two variables that were being measured. Home work was used as the school linkage that brings parents and their children together.

The intervention was integrated into English and Christian Religious Education (CRE) syllabi, an innovation from the usual treatment of treating sexual and reproductive health as a science matter.

The key intervention messages were, children need information on sexual and reproductive health, ultimatums do not work, parents give indirect answers to direct questions, children need quality time with parents.

The study indicated that while at baseline, there was already some communication going on between parents and children on sexual and reproductive health, post-intervention data indicates that there were increases in all sex-related communication areas that were evaluated. Areas that were evaluated included change in parental warmth, perceived danger in sex-related communication, perception in value of sex-related communication.
The study indicated that over-all there was increase in quality and quantity of communication between parents and their children, there was agreement on value of sex education, reduced parental embarrassment and increased parental warmth.

Some of the implications of the study include; the possibility of delivering sex education in the present school curriculum; the need to continue engaging around parental participation in childrenÔÇÖs education, since many teachers reported that parents were reluctant to do so.

During the plenary discussion, opportunities for using the study findings were identified, including an invitation to the Ministry of Education and Sports for the team to share their findings, the on-going curricula review process by the National Curriculum Development Centre.