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|Link to Official Document||E/2011/NGO/14|
The International Conference on Population and Development (1994) emphasized the Reproductive Health and Rights of Adolescents. Furthermore, Heads of Government also reaffirmed the MDG in 2005 with focus on young people┐s health and development as well as social investments in education. In Nigeria, 20.7% of the population is between 10 and 19 years of age (NDHS 2008). In order to meet the reproductive health needs of this population, Association for Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH) in collaboration with other partners are supporting the National Youth Service Corp (NYSC) to reach in-school young people in all the 36 states of Nigeria and the Federal Capital Territory with Adolescent Reproductive Health information and services using the peer education approach. Between 2002 and 2010, 29.8 million secondary school students have been reached with Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health messages by 65,130 trained volunteer Peer Educators┐ Trainers (PETs).
With support from the Global Fund, ARFH has commenced the implementation of Family Life and HIV Education (FLHE) in all Nigerian states. On the project, 20,880 teachers will be trained to use the curricula approach to provide factual Adolescent Reproductive Health information to 2,856,000 students within two and a half years (July 2010 - December 2012).
These two projects will run concurrently in Nigerian schools, with peer educators trained by PETs complementing efforts of FLHE trained teachers in reaching young people with information on delay sexual debut, prevention of teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortion, drug abuse, early marriage, child trafficking, STIs & HIV; and acquisition of life skills like Negotiation, Refusal, Assertiveness, Decision making, etc.
Notable among implementation challenges is poor youth friendly service provision to aid referral and complement information provided by peer educators and teachers. Furthermore, cultural issues that frown at discussions on sexuality among young people persist in some states. Also, weak supportive structures for the FLHE project exist both at the Federal and State Ministries of Education.
To this end, revamping youth friendly clinics and services nation-wide through training and motivation of service providers is necessary. Continuous advocacy targeting stakeholders should be intensified while institutionalization of the two projects in the Ministry and parastatal concerned should be encouraged and supported to enhance government ownership.
Without doubt, implementation of Family Life & HIV Education and the National Reproductive Health, HIV Prevention and Care Project through the NYSC among in-school Nigerian youth will contribute to the achievement of the MDGs of Universal Primary Education, Promotion of gender equality, Reducing maternal mortality and Combating HIV and other diseases. It will also contribute to achieving objective 25.4 and 25.8 of the UN Agenda 21 on Children & Youth in Sustainable Development and the Dakar Declaration of ┐Education for All┐. This is because the programmes encouraged students to stay in school by assisting them to set as well as pursue achievable goals for the future, acquisition of life skills to resist negative peer pressure and by promoting gender equality.