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28 Youth from 11 Countries Strengthen Advocacy Skills through an Advanced Training in Bangkok

©UNFPA/H. Henderson

©UNFPA/H. Henderson

11.06.2012

“Young people are afraid to talk about sex with parents. They are afraid to share their curiosity even with doctor or teacher,” said Anan Bouapha, a 25-year-old Laotian whose work is to educate young people about sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). “While teens could feel awkward when parents try to educate them about sexual and reproductive health, they don’t feel the same towards peers.”

In many parts of Asia, talking about sex is still taboo, according to a Nepalese peer educator Sangeet Kayastha Nepa. “Normally we don’t talk about sex with adults, but we talk to peers,” he said. “And as a Y-PEER member, we are trying to make this larger and trying to reach more people especially those representing or working with the underrepresented key affected populations.”

Y-PEER, the Youth Peer Education Network, is a global network of non-profit organizations and governmental institutions that include thousands of young people supporting peer education on sexual and reproductive health. This year, Y-PEER welcomes new country members from China, Afghanistan and Thailand.

Yu Yang from China Youth Network said that peer education is not popular in his country and is still facing major challenges.

“People believe that SHR discussions should be kept private, so it is hard to get people on board,” stated Yu Yang. “China is such a big country with many opportunities, but we also lack knowledge and training methods necessary to improve our resources.”

To support these young educators, the UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office (APRO) in partnership with UNESCO’s Asia-Pacific Regional Bureau for Education held the third Asia-Pacific Y-PEER Advanced Training of Trainers from May 31 to June 6, 2012 at UNESCO. Twenty-eight Y-PEER members from 11 countries in the region were selected to attend the advanced training course. 

“Young  people working in sexual and reproductive health education are often working in isolation.  It is important for them to connect and learn from each other,” said Helen Henderson, Youth Specialist, UNFPA.

“I find this one-week training very inspiring and empowering. Before I came here, I was just doing my job as a health educator. Now my attitude towards peer education has changed; I know that a peer educator can do a lot of things and can actually drive change,” said Yu Yang.

Going back to their home countries with suitcases full of hope and new skills, participants awill use the knowledge and inspiration gained from this training to generate a much wider impact through peer education. China, for example, already plans to hold a national training of trainers peer education workshop in July. Over 300 applications have expressed their interests to trained in peer education.

“To go beyond what health educators and Y-PEER are already doing, I think governments should go further and integrate comprehensive sexual education into school curricular,” added 22-year-old Thai participant Nawapat Singhasenee, “that way, students would be able to get access to accurate and applicable knowledge, which later on would reduce their risks such as sexually transmitted infections and teen pregnancy in the long run.”

For more information on Y-Peer, visit: www.ypeerinaction.org


By Piyanant Nimakorn