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Table of Contents
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 16  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 13-18

Empowerment of school teachers on adolescent reproductive health education

1 Assistant Professor, Caritas College of Nursing, Kottayam, India
2 Professor, College of Nursing, CMC, Vellore, India

Date of Web Publication23-May-2020

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Today’s adolescents determine the social fabric, economic productivity, and reproductive health and wellbeing of nations throughout the world in the coming decades. Adolescence is the period between childhood and adulthood. It begins with the appearance of secondary sexual characteristics and continues until sexual maturity is complete. During this period rapid physical changes are accompanied by important psychological changes. Reproductive health is related to adolescent physical, psychological, and social integrity. While considering the settings to address the reproductive health needs and problems of adolescents, schools stand out as one of the important and most utilized settings because through the school we can reach out to almost all adolescents. Teachers can play an important role in this field because children are moving through their crucial time of development and becoming sexually mature while attending school. To do this role effectively, teachers have to be empowered on adolescent reproductive health education. The need for teacher empowerment, its methods, and curriculum are discussed in this article. A model for teacher empowerment is developed based on the teacher education model and is presented. Nurses play a vital role as information providers and trainers in the field.

Keywords: teacher empowerment, adolescent reproductive health education

How to cite this article:
Jaicy, Sadan V. Empowerment of school teachers on adolescent reproductive health education. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn 2015;16:13-8

How to cite this URL:
Jaicy, Sadan V. Empowerment of school teachers on adolescent reproductive health education. Indian J Cont Nsg Edn [serial online] 2015 [cited 2022 Dec 7];16:13-8. Available from: https://www.ijcne.org/text.asp?2015/16/2/13/284855

  Introduction Top

Today’s adolescents will determine the social fabric, economic productivity, and reproductive health and well being of nations throughout the world in the coming decades. But the sexual and reproductive ill-health is a major contribution to the burden of diseases among young people. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization [UNESCO] (2009) has recommended that transition to adulthood requires being informed and equipped with appropriate knowledge and skills to make responsible choices in their social and sexual lives. Since majority of the adolescents are attending schools, school based Adolescent Reproductive Health Education (ARHE) is an important area of concern. Teachers play a very important role in dealing with adolescent reproductive health because the adolescents spend more time in the school. Hence teachers need to be empowered to deal with adolescent reproductive health education effectively and efficiently.

  Teacher Empowerment Top

The concept ‘empowerment’ was introduced in 1970s and in line with post-modernism; it had been developing till the end of 20th century. The World Bank (2011) defines empowerment as the “process of enhancing the capacity of individuals or groups to make choices and to transform those choices into desired actions and outcomes”. Bolin (1989) defines teacher empowerment as “investing teachers with the right to participate in the determination of school goals and policies and to exercise professional judgment about what and how to teach”.

Empowered teachers are in the best position to empower students. They can effect changes not only in their classrooms, but in the entire school system. Teacher empowerment is even more essential and complex in dealing with ARHE because they have to deal with sensitive issues of the growing generation. Ahmed et al. (2006) evaluated the effect of Teacher Training Programme for AIDS prevention in Tanzania and reported that the training led to more faithful implementation of the programmes, and professional development of teachers, thus enabling them to empower their students with new information.

  Need for Empowerment of School Teachers on ARHE Top

Today there are more than one billion 10-19 year olds, of whom 70% live in developing nations. In India, adolescents form a large section of population about 20.9% that is 253.2 million (Census of India, 2011). They are growing up in circumstances quite different from those of their parents, with greater access to formal education, technological advancement, and more exposure to new ideas through media, telecommunications, and other avenues. The environment in which young people are making decisions related to sexual and reproductive health is also rapidly evolving (Hindin & Fatusi, 2009). Currently, far too few young people are receiving adequate preparation which leaves them vulnerable to coercion, abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections including HIV.

The Joint United Nations Programme for HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS, 2008) global report on the AIDS epidemic reported that only 40% of young people aged 15-24 had accurate knowledge about HIV and transmission (as cited in UNESCO, 2009). National Aids Control Organization (NACO, 2013) reported that 86% of all HIV infections in India are in the age-group of 15-49 years. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF, 2012) reported that globally in each year about 16 million girls aged between 15-19 years give birth, accounting for 11% of all births and 14% of all maternal deaths. Bangladesh, India, and Nigeria alone account for one in every three of the world’s adolescent births. Approximately, 150 million girls and 73 million boys under the age of 18 years experienced sexual violence and exploitation around the world. Among adolescents in the developing world, a higher percentage of girls (11 %) than boys (5%) had sex before the age of 15 yrs. Ministry of Women and Child Development of India (2007) had undertaken a study on child abuse in India in 13 states. This study revealed that among 1000 children surveyed in these states, 53.22% of children reported having faced one or more forms of sexual abuse.

The education sector has a critical role to play in preparing children and young people for their adult roles and responsibilities. Since most of the adolescents obtain at least some education, school-based programmes appear to be a logical choice for sexual and reproductive health education. School systems also benefit from an existing infrastructure; including teachers likely to be skilled and well-trained (UNESCO, 2009). Tijuana, Traore, Finger, Ruland, and Savariaud (2004) stated that the teachers are often the main adults other than family members with whom adolescents interact on a daily basis. Teachers can play a critical role of being a source of accurate information and a person with whom adolescents can raise sensitive and complicated issues about sexuality and reproductive health. Teachers can function as role models, advocates for healthy school environments, guides for students in need of services, resources for accurate information, mentors, and effective instructors.

Despite the clear and pressing need for effective school-based reproductive health education, in most countries throughout the world this is still not available. Evidence suggests that many people, including education ministry staff, school principals and teachers, may not be convinced of the need to provide sexuality education, or else are reluctant to provide it because they lack the confidence and skills to do so. Teachers’ personal or professional values could also be in conflict with the issues they are being asked to address, or else there is no clear guidance about what to teach and how to teach (UNESCO, 2009). This shows that in order to meet the expectations of ARHE, teachers need to understand the subject, acquire good teaching techniques, and understand what is developmentally and culturally relevant. Thus the teachers need to be empowered to actively involve in the adolescent reproductive health education programme.

  Goals of Teacher Empowerment on ARHE Top

The goals of teacher empowerment on ARHE suggested by UNESCO (2009) are listed below. The teacher empowerment is aimed to

  • Provide accurate information about human sexuality
  • Develop effective classroom skills
  • Advise on teaching materials and methods
  • Develop personal comfort with reproductive health issues
  • Develop competence in reproductive health language
  • Provide information on school and community policies

  Methods of Teacher Empowerment on ARHE Top

The methods which are commonly adopted for empowering school teachers are useful in adolescent reproductive health education programme too. Teachers can be empowered through the following methods :

I. Empowerment through professional development

Professional development includes peer mentoring and coaching, teacher support group and network, and participation in workshops and conferences on ARHE.

a) Peer mentoring and peer coaching: Yanoshak (2007) stated that through peer mentoring a novice teacher is paired with a teacher who has experience and in which the mentor provides guidance, advice, support, and feedback to the partner. Peer coaching is a method of getting suggestions from the peers to improve skills and discuss problems and difficulties with them. Both peer mentoring and peer coaching are very useful for empowering school teachers on ARHE, in which experienced teacher can provide ongoing assessment, guidance, and encouragement that increases his/ her competencies and confidence.

b) Teacher support group and network: This includes a small group (3-15 members) of teachers who are involved in teaching and having periodic informal collegial meetings to share their issues and difficulties in teaching including the content. Here, the teachers working on ARHE from same school or several schools from the same community/ religion join together to discuss their issues, problems, and future plans. They can teach, learn, and grow together.

c) Participation in workshops and conferences on

ARHE: Workshops related to ARHE provide an opportunity to teachers to gain confidence, learn new techniques to deal with ARHE, and introduce new ideas. Teachers are empowered when they return from a conference and they can in turn inspire their colleagues to utilize new teaching practices (Murray, 2010).

II. Empowerment through Teacher Training Programme

This method focuses on training of more teachers on ARHE to make them experts on this field. It includes recruiting qualified teachers with healthy attitude towards ARHE and providing them with relevant training. The training programme consists of the following:

a) Induction programme: New teachers should be oriented to the curriculum of ARHE, effective teaching skills, instructional strategies, student learning needs, and cultural influences on ARHE (Induction Elements Manual, 2010).

b) In-service training and refresher training programme: In-service training and refresher training programmes help the teachers to update the knowledge on ARHE. Wong and Wong (2003) had evaluated a teacher training programme in school management in Chinese University of Hong Kong and the results showed that the refresher training programme was effective and showed a significant improvement in their knowledge and skills, especially among senior teachers.

c) Quality assurance programme: It focuses on the guidelines/best practices and checks the quality of teaching and learning. This will provide an opportunity for every member to learn and deal with their problems in the field of ARHE.

III. Empowerment through Skill Training

The common methods for skill training are lecture cum discussion, demonstration, practice and feedback, coaching in classroom, participatory training, brainstorming, role-play, debates, drama, and games. Implementation of ARHE programme also should include the supervised skill training and periodic evaluation. UNICEF (2004) conducted an interactive training programme for four days in Gujarat, which covered the basics of life skills for 243 teachers. The study findings showed that after the training, teachers started to understand their students better and the children were moulded into independent thinkers. Students became more participative, creative, and interactive.

IV. Empowering through Teacher Evaluation Programme /Academic Enrichment Programme

In these methods the experts in the field evaluate the quality of teaching, testing, and affectivity in promoting student learning and give suggestions for improvement. Holistic improvement of teacher performance in ARHE aims at clarifying the approaches used in ARHE, making worksheets, demo lessons of skill training on ARHE, extensive observation of teachers in the classroom and giving feedback for improvement (Educational Initiatives, 2012).

  Curriculum for ARHE Top

NACO (2008) has recommended the following topics to be covered in ARHE

  • Rationale for ARHE in schools and roles and responsibilities of school teachers in ARHE
  • Concepts of adolescence, puberty, and sexuality
  • Physical, mental, and emotional changes during adolescent period
  • Anatomy and physiology of reproductive system
  • Process of conception and consequences of early sexual behavior
  • Life skills

  Model for Empowerment of School Teachers on ARHE Top

The model for empowerment of school teachers on ARHE was developed on the basis of teacher education model of National Institute of Education (NIE). NIE developed this model for preparing the teachers for 21st century. One of the important aims is to prepare and empower the school teachers for ARHE (National Institute of Education [NIE], 2009).

This model starts with an aspiring teacher for ARHE. In order to be empowered for ARHE programme she has to move through 5 pathways which include Professional Development (PD), Teachers Training (TT), Skill Training (ST), Teacher Evaluation Programme (TEP), and Academic Enrichment Programme (AEP). Through these pathways, the teachers are trained for various aspects of teacher empowerment on ARHE which includes the center core factor of curriculum which is surrounded by three interrelated factors of assessment, pedagogies, and theory practice nexus. These 5 path ways also leads to modification of values, skills, and knowledge and in turn it has an influence on teacher empowerment programme on ARHE. All these empowerment processes enhance the competencies of school teachers to deal with ARHE and thus leads to an empowered school teacher on ARHE. This model is depicted in {Figure 1].
Figure 1: Model for empowerment of school teachers on Adolescent Reproductive Health Education

Click here to view

  Recommendations for Empowerment of School Teachers on ARHE Top

UNESCO (2009) has given the following recommendations to train school teachers on ARHE:

  • It should cover all the content of ARHE, teaching methodologies, teacher skills, personal attitudes, and teachers’ HIV-risk behaviors
  • This should cover policies, administrative practices, and cultural norms that will affect the teaching of reproductive health information
  • Teachers need to be willing and motivated to teach RH/HIV and be trustworthy to youth
  • The duration and length of training appears to affect the effectiveness of teachers
  • It needs the support of national ministries, local school management, and communities
  • Train tutors (teachers of teachers), primary and secondary teachers, and to a lesser extent, other staff, principals, and administrators
  • Teachers need support after the initial training
  • It should embrace a policy of zero tolerance for exploitation of students

  National Health Programmes Related to ARH Top

National Adolescent Reproductive and Sexual Health Strategy (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, 2006), Adolescence Education Programme by NACO and RCH Services to adolescents have given focus on friendly, confidential, nonjudgmental services to adolescents, school based programme on life skills, and sexuality education. These programs are contributing in one way or other way towards the objective of attaining adolescent reproductive health.

  Nurses’ Role in ARHE Top

Nurses can play a vital role in empowering school teachers on ARHE. They can be involved in the following activities to achieve this. They are:

  • Nurses could plan and conduct training programme for school teachers, adolescents, peer educators, and parents
  • Prepare teaching module on ARH which can be used by school teachers for empowering adolescents
  • Formulate adolescent health clinics
  • Provide sexual guidance and counseling in schools and hospitals
  • Participate in policy formation regarding ARH programmes in schools and other settings
  • Conduct research and utilize these findings for better practice

  Conclusion Top

Empowerment of school teachers is very essential to deal with all the aspects of adolescent reproductive health in a socially and culturally relevant and appropriate manner. Teachers should develop competencies to deal with delicate issues related to ARH. Various reports showed that the teachers are aware of the importance of ARHE in schools but are reluctant to teach this topic because of lack of competencies, confidence, and training. It is essential to train and empower the school teachers to deal ARHE. At present not much efforts are taken to empower the school teachers to educate the adolescents about their reproductive health. Nurses play a pivotal role in the process of empowerment of school teachers on adolescent reproductive health education effectively. Community health nurses and school health nurses can contribute towards empowering school teachers on ARH.

Conflicts of Interest: The authors have declared no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Ahmed, N., Flisher, A. J., Mathews, C., Jansen, S., Mukoma, W., & Schaalma, H. (2006). Process evaluation of the teacher training for an AIDS prevention programme. Health Education Research. 21(5). 621-632.  Back to cited text no. 1
Bolin, F. S. (1989). Empowering leadership. Teachers College Record, 19(1), 81-96. Retrieved from http://books.google.co.in/books.  Back to cited text no. 2
Census of India. (2011). Release of social and cultural tables age data highlights. Retrieved from https:// www.google.co.in/ Census+of+india+2011+PPT.  Back to cited text no. 3
Educational Initiatives. (2012). Student learning study. Retrieved from www.ei-india.com  Back to cited text no. 4
Hindin, M. J., & Fatusi, A. O. (2009). Adolescent sexual and reproductive health in developing countries: An overview of trends and interventions. Retrieved from http://www. guttmacher.org/pubs/journals/3505809.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 5
Induction Elements Manual. (2010). The new teacher induction programme. Retrieved from http://www.edu. gov.on.ca/eng.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 6
Ministry of Health and Family welfare. (2006). Implementation guide on RCH II, Adolescent reproducitve sexual health strategy. Retrieved from http://www.searo. who.int.  Back to cited text no. 7
Ministry of Women and Child Development of India. (2007). A study on child abuse in India. Retrieved from http: //wcd.nic.in/childabuse.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 8
Murray, A. (2010). Empowering teachers through professional development. Retrieved from http://americanenglish.state.gov/files/ae/resource_files/.pdf.  Back to cited text no. 9
National AIDS Control Organization. (2008). Teachers work book on adolescence education programme and life skills development. Retrieved from https: //www.google.co.in. NACO.  Back to cited text no. 10
National AIDS Control Organization. (2013). Department of AIDS Control, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Annual Report. Retrieved from http ://www.naco.gov.in.  Back to cited text no. 11
National Institute of Education. (2009). A teacher education model for 21st century. Retrieved from http ://www .nie.edu.  Back to cited text no. 12
Tijuana A., Traore, J., Finger, W., Ruland, C., & Savariaud, S. (2004). Teacher training: Essential for school-based reproductive health and HIV/AIDS education focus on sub-Saharan Africa. Retrieved from http://dspace. africaportal.org.  Back to cited text no. 13
The United Nations Children’s Fund. (2004). Empowering teacher and children through life skill training. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/india /resources.html.  Back to cited text no. 14
The United Nations Children’s Fund. (2012). Progress for children, A report card on adolescence. Retrieved from http://www.unicef.org/india/resources .html.  Back to cited text no. 15
The World Bank. (2011). Empowerment. Retrieved from http://web.worldbank.or.  Back to cited text no. 16
United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2009). International technical guidance on sexuality education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. Retrieved from http://unesdoc.unesco.org.  Back to cited text no. 17
Wong, P. M., & Wong, C. S. (2003). Evaluation of teacher training programme in school management. Retrieved from http://ema.sagepub.com/contentZ31/4/385 .abstract.  Back to cited text no. 18
Yanoshak, S. (2007). Peer mentoring: Works for mentors, partners, and programs. Retrieved from www.able.state.pa.us /fieldnotes.  Back to cited text no. 19


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