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« on: August 03 2007 »

By: Joyce Joan Wangui / HANA

At the click of a button, youngsters who often grapple with the question of sex issues will now get first-hand information regarding the topic, thanks to a new innovative computer-based sexuality and HIV Aids education programme dubbed the 'World Starts With Me'.

The new programme is an initiative of the Centre for the Study of Adolescence (CSA) whose epicentre focuses on sexuality issues such as puberty, pregnancy, reproductive health and HIV Aids. The program seeks to address many questions that trouble the youth such as, "How do I get pregnant". "How can I protect myself against HIV Aids". "What are Sexually Transmitted Diseases among", etc.

Ms Rosemary Muganda Onyando, the Executive Director of CSA, explains that as many youngsters enter their teenage years, they fail to understand the changes in their bodies and how to react, hence they end up in trouble due to ignorance. Cultural constraints also contribute to the grim consequences as many parents and guardians still find it a taboo to discuss sexuality issues with the young ones.

Through the new computer-based programme, teenagers will access all information required to enable them make informed choices regarding sexuality and reproductive issues. It will also encourage interaction among students on issues surrounding the hitherto a 'closed' topic.

The Provincial Director of Education in Kenya, Mbarak Said Twahir says that the initiative is part of the ministry's sexual education curriculum programme which should be embraced by all schools in the country.

The ministry through the help of UNESCO has pledged to donate computers to schools and other youth organisations in order to effectively implement the programme.

"Teenagers with access to appropriate sexuality and reproductive health information are less likely to become pregnant or contract sexually transmitted infections including HIV Aids."

Moreover informed teenagers appreciate and see the physiological and physical changes they undergo as natural but ignorant youth are easily taken advantage of.

This software programme targets teens between the ages of 12-19 as they are the most vulnerable and naive. Older ones can also benefit.

The programme is participatory; and at the click of a button students can participate in games, questions and discussions. Topics tackled include sex, teenage pregnancy, abortion and voluntary counselling and testing.

According to Onyando, the programme is timely as many youths have been misled by the media to indulge in irresponsible sexual activities and  the programme seeks to reverse the trend and also prepares teenagers to be responsible.

Launched in Africa in 2001 in collaboration with the World Population Foundation , the programme has been introduced in 40 local schools.

A similar program has been introduced in Uganda, South Africa, Indonesia and India.

source: HANA http://hana.ru.ac.za/articledl.cfm?articleid=1536
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