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Regional conference on comprehensive sexual education and integrating sexual and reproductive health concepts into school curricula
Regional conference on comprehensive sexual education and integrating sexual and reproductive health concepts into school curricula
Wednesday, 24 April 2024

The regional conference on comprehensive sexual education and the extent of integrating sexual and reproductive health concepts into school curricula commenced its activities on Monday, April 22nd, 2024. The conference was organized by The Higher Population Council and Share-Net Jordan, and held under the patronage of Chairman of the National Centre for Curriculum Development in Jordan NCCD, Professor Dr. Mohieddin Touq. Attending and participating in the conference also were experts in the field of education from Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, Jordan and representatives of national authorities and other parties concerned in education in Jordan.

The two-day conference comes within Share-Net Jordan's commitment to expand its efforts and operations at the national and regional levels and to exchange information, experiences and expertise among Arab countries in the region in this field. The conference will introduce opportunities for participants to exchange experiences and enrich their competences in this field. Moreover, the conference will present national reports of the participating countries supported by scientific evidence regarding the reality of comprehensive sexual education in educational curricula, and to what extent the need is to integrate these concepts into school curricula, with reference to the comprehensive review of these curricula.

Chairman of the National Centre for Curriculum Development, NCCD in Jordan, Professor Dr. Mohieddin Touq, stated during his opening speech at the conference that concepts of sexual education and reproductive health had remained a hidden taboo for some time. Now, however, with the swift and rapid development in information and communication technology, and the manifold and diverse channels from which young adults can get knowledge, and  with the boundless openness to multiple cultures, it has become crucial for Arab educational systems to address these important issues with the utmost consideration and attention. Educational systems in the Arab world need to see the fact that health, in general, has come to be of a wide scope, extending to include physical, social, psychological and sexual health under its umbrella.

 Dr. Touq pointed to the fact that awareness and knowledge of sexual and reproductive health services and access to adequate care can make a difference in the lives of individuals. Therefore, raising awareness about sexual and reproductive health and ensuring that people know the correct and accurate information about it is extremely important, especially as it includes a wide range of issues, such as: means of birth control/ contraceptives, repercussions of sexual violence and partner violence, female genital mutilation, transmission of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases STDs.

HPC Secretary-General, Professor Dr. Issa Al-Masarwa, reiterated that adolescents and the youth aged between (10-24 years) are the ones that will set the scene and determine the shape and future of our Arab societies. Dr. Masarwa pointed to the fact that adolescents and young adults need to build and expand their knowledge about puberty, adulthood and safeguarding their sexual and reproductive health. Dr. Masarwa added that the curricula and educators need to be given the space they need as they are important factors in this field especially as open communication between parents and their siblings is rather week.

Masarwa stated that it is expected the conference will act as a scientific platform aimed at initiating continuous cooperation between participants to exchange experiences on knowledge products based on scientific evidence. This, Masarwa added, will play a pivotal role in supporting policies and practices in the field of comprehensive sexual education at the national level in all Arab countries.

During the first day, experts participating in the conference reviewed reports of their countries’ experiences in the field of sexual and reproductive health and the extent to which these concepts needed to be integrated into school curricula. Dr. Akram Hassan, Director of the Central Curricula Administration/ Ministry of Education and Technical Education/ Egypt, presented his country’s experience in this field. Dr. Mohamed Zerouali, Director of the Curriculum Directorate at the First Ministry of Education and Sports in Morocco, also discussed the Moroccan experience. Dr. Thouqan Obaidat, educational consultant/ Jordan, discussed the Jordanian experience while Professor Dr. Hiam Ishaq, Head of the Educational Centre for Research and Development/ Lebanon, reviewed the Lebanese experience. From Tunisia Rehab Al-Blidi, assigned with comprehensive sexual education-Youth Program/ UN Population Fund, gave an overview of her country’s experience.

To sum up, educational consultant Dr. Thouqan Obaidat reviewed the narrative report that summarized all the experiences of these countries and highlighted the lessons learned and the challenges the countries faced in integrating the concepts of sexual and reproductive health into school curricula. A seminar was also held for experts from participating countries with Dr. Sherine Hamed, Executive Director of the Jordanian National Centre for Curriculum Development as moderator.

As part of the activities of the second day of the conference, Saleh Al-Omari, Directorate of the Curriculum/Ministry of Education, will review the most important outcomes of the conference which need further in-depth study. HPC Secretary-General/ Chairman of the Steering Committee of Share-Net Jordan will announce the launch of three grants that address issues of the utmost importance. Assistant Secretary-General of the Higher Council for the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, Ghadeer Al-Haris, will provide details about applying for these grants and review the application for the grant.

On the side-lines of the second day activities, participants will be divided into working groups to submit applications for these grants.