Most countries think that HIV/AIDS, adolescence and sexual health are exhausted topics to continue teaching about to the youth, yet 498 million African people between the ages of 15 to 49 are infected each year with sexually related infections such as: chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, or Trichomoniasis. This shows that we still have a lot to do in sexual education and this should be started from a tender age.
A project funded by the European Union will assist in spreading sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) education to adolescents in five wards of Tarime District, Mara Region in Tanzania. More than 1,800 young girls and boys aged 14-20 will be reached under the programme being implemented by Plan International in five wards of Susuni, Sabasaba, Nyamwaga, Matongo and Sirari.
“Already, we have conducted a five-day training attended by 10 health and social welfare officials. The 10 participants will now be used as trainer of trainers (TOTs) and will train 12 peer educators in each ward,” Justin Mahimbo, the Project Coordinator from Plan International.
The training given to the TOTs recently was keenly designed to enhance girls’ knowledge and skills in making informed decisions about their sexual reproductive health, according to Mr Mahimbo.
The 10 TOTs, he said are expected to train 60 peer educators who will later disseminate adolescence sexual and reproductive health and rights education in the targeted wards. “Through peer to peer education it is anticipated that each peer educator will reach at least 11 young men and 75 young women. This means 400 young men and 1,400 young girls will be reached,” the official said. The initiative is part of a two-year EU funded project aimed at ending child marriages and female genital mutilation (FGM) in Tarime District, according to Mr Mahimbo.
Tarime is rated as having a high rate of FGM cases in Mara region. FGM is cited to be the source of massive school dropouts and child marriages in the region. In December last year alone, more than 1,600 girls were reportedly mutilated in five clans of Kurya tribe residing in different villages of Tarime.
The harmful culture which exposes girls to humiliation and severe pain during and after the cut is still widely embraced among the Kurya clans.
Reports had it that next FGM season is planned to take place in some parts of Tarime in December, this year.