IITE presents edutainment videos & discusses violence prevention at an International conference in Berlin

UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education participated in the International conference "Sexuality education: Lessons Learnt and Future Developments in the WHO European Region" held by a German Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA), a WHO Collaborating Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health, on May 15-16, 2017 in Berlin, Germany.

The Conference brought together over 150 experts in the field of sexual and reproductive health and sexuality education throughout the WHO European Region for a technical exchange on the current state of sexuality education in Western, Central and Eastern Europe and Central Asia.  The current trends and challenges related to the implementation of sexuality education as well as future strategies and approaches for its promotion were the focus of two day discussions.

The conference first day was devoted to the discussion of the current situation related to sexuality education in Europe and Central Asia. It was informed by the findings of BZgA-IPPF EN supported research in 24 countries and lessons learnt on the approaches to sexuality education for specific target groups and settings such as kindergartens, primary school, secondary school, multicultural groups, children and young people with cognitive/intellectual disabilities, and parents.  Iryna Scorbun of Women Health and Family Planning Foundation, UNESCO's key partner in Ukraine, presented new education materials for sexuality education of young adults with learning disabilities. 

The afternoon sessions focused on the core principles, structures and research of sexuality education (SE): linkages of SE to health and counseling services, training of sexuality educators, evaluating SE, implementation of SE in resource-poor settings, addressing sexual diversity and gender roles in SE, and addressing gender-based violencein SE.

Joanna Herat, UNESCO senior programme specialist on health and education (UNESCO, Paris) contributed to the session on evaluating sexuality education. Ms Herat said: “Evaluating sexuality education can be extremely complex, because the objectives of sexuality education for each age group are so different, and the overall goals are broad and can often only be measured in the long term. But it’s a crucial component which can allow us to plan and deliver curricula more effectively.” Ms Herat also debriefed the participants on UNESCO-led revision of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (2009) which will be published later in 2017.

Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO regional HIV and health education advisor (UNESCO IITE, Moscow), organized and chaired a session on the prevention of gender-based violence and sexual abuse in schools. The session explored and discussed how a sexuality education curriculum, teaching recourses and teacher training can work together in addressing gender-based violence in school.

Opening the session, Tigran Yepoyan said, “Every year, 246 million children and adolescents across the world experience violence and bullying in and around schools. In many instances, the acts of violence they face are gendered, they stem from deeply rooted cultural beliefs and practices, gender norms and stereotypes, and unequal power dynamics. However, schools can and shall prevent violence and particularly gender-based violence and abuse through gender-transformative teaching and learning approaches, supported by well-trained teachers and education personnel. Curriculum that encourages young people to question, negotiate and challenge violence and gender discrimination is critical for preventing school-related gender-based violence”.

Mr. Yepoyan presented the existing evidence of the role of comprehensive sexuality educationin violence prevention and numerous resources that provide good policy and practice examples for addressing violence and abuse in and around schools,including the UNESCO-UN WomenGlobal Guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence(SRGBV)and other UNESCO global and EECA regional tools. Suzanne Hargreavesfrom Education Scotlandand Stefanie Amann from BZgA shared good practice examples from Scotland and Germany on curricula approaches, extracurricular activities and special interventions in addressing SRGBV in a holistic manner.  

The conference second day was fully focused on the future developments ofsexuality education in the context of ever increasing use of the Internet and social media to search for information related to sexual health and relationships.

Yulia Plakhutina, UNESCO IITE Project manager for education and HIV (UNESCO IITE, Moscow), opened the first plenary session of the second day and presented edutainment videos for adolescents on HIV prevention, sexual relationships, love and friendship, reproductive health, decision making and violence (trolling prevention). These videos have been recently created through collaborative efforts of UNESCO IITE and Youtube channel "Nowchpok”.  Within 5 months since they were first published on Youtube and in social media, they have scored more than 3.5 million views. These videos intend to give clear and simple answers to the difficult questions young people may ask themselves on their way from childhood to adulthood. Ms. Plakhutina's presentation was well received and set the tone for further discussions.

During the discussion on strategies for using online media for sexuality education, Yulia Plakhutina said, “Edutainment content on sexual and reproductive health issues available in the Internet (e.g. video-blogs, media campaigns, educational websites and mobile apps, etc.) cannot completely replace the comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education, which is being delivered in schools, as well by youth services and families. Nonetheless, we cannot ignore the fact, adolescents spend a significant part of their free time in the Internet, communicating with each other, playing games or searching for some particular information. In the Internet, they are exposed to information, often quite controversial, with regards to their puberty, interpersonal relationships, love, sexual relations. Our goal is to ensure high-quality information on sexual and reproductive health is easily accessible in the Internet. For these purposes, it’s crucially important to cooperate with existing web-platforms, targeting young people, including social networks.”

The Conference featured youth delegates from several countries who underscored the growing demand for good quality comprehensive sexuality education delivered in school and via social media and the Internet. Young people from Kyrgyzstan, Republic of Moldova, Tajikistan, Romania and other countries shared their experiences in conveying important sexual and reproductive health related information to their peers and developing their communication and decision making skills.

The conference participants reaffirmed the critical role of sexuality education in health and well-being promotion among children and young people, identified the key successes and shortcomings in the development, delivery and evaluation of sexuality education and outlined future strategies, new partnerships and promising approaches to improve the quality and expand the reach of sexuality education across Europe and Central Asia.

The Conference was organized and hosted by the German Federal Centre for Health Education (BZgA) and co-sponsored by International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and World Health Organization (WHO) Office for Europe.

More information about the Conference can be found at its website: http://www.bzga-whocc.de/en/international-conference-2017/


The presentations of UNESCO specialists:

Evaluation of Sexuality Education. Global Perspectives

Joanna Herat, UNESCO senior programme specialist on health and education, UNESCO, Paris

The role of curriculum, teaching recourses and training in addressing school-related gender-based violence  

Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO regional HIV and health education advisor, UNESCO IITE, Moscow

Edutainment Videos on Sexual and Reproductive Health: Production and Promotion in EECA

Yulia Plakhutina, UNESCO IITE Project manager for education and HIV, UNESCO IITE, Moscow


UNESCO publications:

Global Guidance on Addressing School-Related Gender-Based Violence
UNESCO Guide for Educators on Violence Prevention in Educational Settings for Eastern Europe

The conference photos have been taken by photographer ©Heiko Laschitzki and kindly provided by BZgA.

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