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UNESCO, Myanmar Medical Association and Myanmar universities partner to strengthen sexuality education

A training facilitator discusses the reproductive system with participants.

27.02.2015

Young people comprise nearly a third of Myanmar’s population, and while overall health and education indicators have been improving rapidly for this group in recent years, sexual and reproductive health (SRH) is too often overlooked as a critical aspect of their well-being.

UNESCO has recently partnered with the Youth Development Program of the Myanmar Medical Association (YDP) and three universities (in conjunction with their respective Red Cross associations) to respond to the need for improved sexuality education among young people.

The efforts are in line with Myanmar’s National Strategic Plan on HIV and AIDS 2011-2015, which proposes a number of interventions aimed at reducing HIV-related risks and vulnerability among young people (15-24 years old), including reaching out to university and college students.

UNESCO and the YDP have partnered with East Yangon University, Dagon University, and the Yangon Institute of Economics – with a combined 20,000 students – implement a series of training activities. These activities, which began in December and will continue throughout this year, include capacity development for young student leaders in communicating SRH/HIV knowledge and imparting related skills to their peers.

East Yangon and Dagon universities hosted the first two trainings, which were aimed at enhancing student leaders’ knowledge on SRH/HIV issues and equipping them with the skills needed to serve as role models in delivering this information within their networks.

At East Yangon University, the 30 youth participants were fully engaged in all sessions and initiated stimulating discussions among themselves and with facilitators. 

“I had fun and also learned a lot about health and other valuable information, especially on sexual and reproductive health,” said by one of the attendees. “After this, I plan to pass on this knowledge to my friends.”

In his opening address, East Yangon University Rector Dr Kyaw Kyaw Khaung emphasized how important it is for young people to be knowledgeable about HIV and SRH issues as well as to take a leading role in sharing this information.

“HIV issues among youth are very important and students should be able to access correct information on HIV and SRH, so thank you very much to UNESCO and YDP for bringing these opportunities to East Yangon University,” he said.

During the training, students brainstormed the best ways to share messages on SRH/HIV. Among their recommendations were to set up a Facebook page to share the information, offering guidance to other students through informal discussions, distributing educational pamphlets and organizing knowledge fairs.

The training at Dagon University in January was also well received by the 40 participants. Rector Dr Hla Htay thanked organizers, saying, “If possible, we would like to receive this kind of training every year.”

The next training activity will be held at the Yangon Institute of Economics.

The UNESCO-YDP partnership will also include information sharing on SRH and HIV in Myanmar through a variety of media, including SMS texts, Facebook posts, telephone hotline services and a wider mass media campaign.

Contact: Pyi Pyi Phyo, UNESCO Yangon at pp.phyo@unesco.org