Tanzania – sex education: starting from acquisitions and beliefs

Noémie Guérif and the trainers

In Tanzania, 39% of teenage girls between the ages of 15 and 19 already have a child or are pregnant*. These young women are at risk of premature birth, birth complications and mortality. Noémie Guérif, education specialist for Enfants du Monde, traveled last December, to Mahenge, in the rural district of Ulanga in the south of the country, to enhance the knowledge of local trainers in sex education.

Co-developping sex education training

Mahenge is only 500 km from the large coastal city, Dar Es Salaam. To get there, it takes 2 days on the road, and you have to pass by an area of wooded savannah where trees are everywhere and the soil is red. Noémie has an appointment with her colleagues from SolidarMed as well as representatives of the Ministry of Health and Education, a teacher from the University of Dodoma, the capital, a teacher and two care providers from the district, all of them constitute the group of local trainers she came to meet. On the program, several working meetings to co-develop training in sex education adapted to the needs of the teenagers.

Teachers, peer educators, care providers, community workers involved in sex education sessions
Identifying sex education practices

An educational diagnosis was carried out during the summer of 2022 to find out about the professional practices of the people who provide sex education sessions to young people and communities. “Peer educators”, who are teenagers trained to provide sex education sessions to their peers and their community, as well as teachers, nurses and midwives who follow them in this task, were interviewed and their practices were observed to better understand what they do and how they do it. This assessment highlighted some local beliefs and practices, likely to hinder the appropriation of the prevention messages shared during the sex education sessions.

Sex education session conducted in the community
Considering the beliefs and practices of teenagers to change attitudes

The sex education training conducted by Enfants du Monde and SolidarMed is based on a detailed understanding of the needs, lived situations and beliefs of the teenagers and the communities so that the sex education sessions are as relevant and interesting as possible for young people. Only these two criteria guarantee a good understanding and assimilation of prevention messages, which in the long term will make it possible to change attitudes.

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