SRHR Network ConferenceSaturday 7th April 2018
At the end of January 2018, SEED Madagascar held a national, two-day Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) conference in the capital, Antananarivo. The conference opened a dialogue on issues surrounding the sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of Malagasy youth, bringing together other organisations, youth delegates and Ministry officials who share a passion for equal access to effective SRH information. SEED Madagascar, partner organisations – Marie Stopes International, Mahefa Miaraka, Youth First and The Independent National Commission of Human Rights – along with the Ministries of Education and Public Health presented their working in the field of SRHR, their outcomes and the challenges they face. Valuable discussions on a variety of SRHR topics resulted in the identification of important milestones, challenges and learnings.
The main focus of the conference was a new SRHR curriculum, developed by SEED in collaboration with the Ministry of National Education (MEN), to be rolled out at select lycées across the country in coming months. The overall response to the curriculum’s content and its rights-based message was positive. However, there were concerns that out-of-school youth would not be reached by a curriculum integrated into lycées only, putting them at further risk for uninformed, unhealthy SRH behaviours. As such, the Ministry of Public Health is currently developing an SRH programme to be disseminated in the community by local health agents. There is also scope, in the future, for appropriate educational programming to be extended to out-of-school youth and CEG students.
The inclusion of parents in curriculum design and roll-out was identified as an important component of effective SRHR information uptake within traditional societies. Marie Stopes International shared they had conducted focus groups and a qualitative study with parents and community leaders. During advocacy meetings, parents and community leaders were encouraged to create action plans for better SRH outcomes for young people and to increase awareness of SRH issues. Mahefa Miaraka has also worked with communities by sensitising parents and leaders to ensure youth have a space to acquire SRHR knowledge. It is hoped that by working with communities we can create a wide ranging SRHR network and reach the highest number of youths possible.
Finally, conference attendees discussed the challenge of obtaining up-to-date information and data relating to the SRH needs of young people in Madagascar. Data availability is limited by regional disparities, financial and human resources and the traditional beliefs of communities. The launch of an SRHR online platform by SEED will offer support and resources to young people, partner organisations and Ministries. It will house learning documents, news articles and a discussion section for open dialogue and problem solving. This resource will be vital to the partnership building and SRHR knowledge sharing necessary to reduce the current gaps in knowledge and data. The national curriculum pilot will provide further details of participant knowledge, attitudes and practices through Monitoring, Evaluation and Learning tools. This will establish emerging needs or trends and lead to the adjustment of the SRHR lycée curriculum, as needed.
Further information regarding the SRHR conference and National Curriculum can be found by contacting SEED Madagascar directly.