Educators shatter taboos as they disseminate information about SRH

Educators shatter taboos as they disseminate information about SRH

On National Education Day, an insight into how platforms like Educately are helping teachers equip adolescents with empowering information

There are clear benefits to making Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) accessible to the youth. SRH-related education positively impacts menstrual hygiene, can prevent teenage pregnancies, promote gender equality, and enhance physical and mental health outcomes. Most importantly, it can destigmatize conversations about bodily agency and autonomy, and give youth more control over their future.

However, discussing topics about sexual and reproductive health in schools is often considered taboo, especially in rural areas due to restrictive societal norms. But now, educators are turning to platforms like Educately (Population Foundation of India’s digital one-stop resource center for information on adolescent health and well-being), to help their students navigate SRH-related concerns.

Take the case of Sathish Kumar, the principal of a private school in Erode, Tamil Nadu. To learn how to provide accurate, age-appropriate, and culturally suitable SRH information, he participated in an extensive program on adolescent reproductive and sexual health called ‘ARSH for You’.  

Sathish Kumar is not alone. He is one of over 13,500 teachers who have benefited from this teacher training program by Educately.

“In conservative environments, adolescents often have little or no access to credible information about puberty-related issues. Social barriers also obstruct the dissemination of information about SRH as there is a misconception that such knowledge will encourage promiscuity. There is virtually no one that adolescents can turn to for guidance. In such a scenario, the school can be a youth-friendly, safe space where students can have difficult conversations about their SRH. Educately has made a huge difference to my understanding of what an educator can do to normalize subjects that carry stigma in our society,” said Kumar.

He shared that the ‘ARSH for You’ training program is specifically structured to provide teachers with pertinent knowledge about various facets of adolescent health and well-being. It also enhances facilitation skills, enabling teachers to convey relevant information in a sensitive, effective, and empathetic manner. The trained teachers can then confidently address questions concerning reproductive and sexual health, gender identity, the importance of safe sex practices, and the prevention of sexual violence.

 ‘ARSH for You’ consists of four modules, encompassing topics like gender and identity, growth and change, relationships, and conception and contraception. The program is available in both English and Hindi and can be accessed on any internet-enabled device, including smartphones at no cost; completing the program typically takes 6-8 hours.

Riya Thakur, Associate Lead- Youth & Adolescence at Population Foundation of India says, “The curriculum is user-friendly and self-paced to accommodate the diverse needs and availability of teachers. We also provide technical and non-technical support via email, chat, and phone through a dedicated team. Our goal is to create a support system for adolescents to reach their full potential so that they are equipped with correct and age-appropriate information, and they can grow into well-rounded, healthy individuals with agency.”