Opening Remarks of Dr. Annette Sachs Robertson, UNFPA Representative at the Workshop on the Development of Curricullum Diversification of Module for Teachers on ASRH Education at Le Meridien Hotel, Jakarta, 13-15 December 2016

13 December 2016

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning, Selamat Pagi.

I am delighted to represent UNFPA at this opening of the diversification of the curriculum on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health.

As you are aware, around 65 million young people, aged 10 to 24 years old, representing 28% of total population, are growing up in Indonesia, where preventable and treatable health problems like early pregnancy, unsafe sex, HIV/AIDS, depression, injury, and violence remain a daily threat to their health, wellbeing, and life chances. Today, they also face new challenges, including rising levels of obesity, mental health disorders, high unemployment and sexual violence - as currently has been reported by media in many places in Indonesia.

In Indonesia 1.7 million young women under the age of 24 years give birth annually; nearly 0.5 million comprise teenage girls. The 2012 Indonesian Demographic Health Survey suggests a decrease in the adolescent age specific fertility rate from 51 births (2007) to 48 births per 1000 women of reproductive age. 

There is a large gap between knowledge and use of contraceptives in Indonesia. The majority of sexually active young people do not use any protection. Only 47 percent of married adolescents are currently using any method of contraception, lower than their 20 to 24 year-old counterparts. And we don’t even know the percentage of sexually active non-married adolescents’ contraceptive use.

Nearly 40 percent of new confirmed AIDS cases are between the ages of 20 and 29, many likely were infected with HIV between ages of 15 and 24.

Many health issues & lifestyle risk factors for disease in later life emerge during 10-24 years: mental health disorders, obesity, smoking & unsafe sex. Because adolescence is thought to be the healthiest time of life, young people have attracted little interest & too few resources but addressing them will bring huge socio- economic benefits.

As you know Sexual and Reproductive health education is about more than the stigma surrounding sex or the evidence confirming its effectiveness. By ‘reproductive health,’ I mean a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being, and not merely the absence of reproductive disease or infirmity. Without access to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education and services, young people, especially girls, face daunting risks: unintended pregnancy, unsafe abortion, maternal morbidity and mortality, violence, and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.

Well-developed and well-implemented education on reproductive health is essential to young people’s success in the future. It helps them early on establish respect for themselves and their current or future partner, as well as a sense of dignity, autonomy, and confidence to make positive choices toward planning their futures.

Far too often, young people in Indonesia do not access reproductive health education and services. Accessing information and services can be difficult—partly because of availability of crucial information and services, and partly because what exists often fails to engage young people. Education and services already in place do not comprehensively address the whole of young people’s reproductive health needs. Sometimes, teachers and health care providers are not at ease with their legal or moral responsibility of providing education and services to adolescents and youth.

Issues related to reproductive and sexual health are already included in Science and Biology curricula, as well as in Sports and Healthy Living, Social Sciences, and Religion. The scope of topics covered, the factual content, and the normative frame applied varies greatly across current curricula. There is limited national policy or standardized guidelines for teachers in delivering reproductive health education. This has contributed to the dearth of high-quality reproductive health education in schools. Decentralization creates an additional challenge to delivering a reproductive health curriculum of the quality that all students deserve.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is an international development organization that promotes the right of every woman, man, and child to enjoy a life of health and equal opportunity. In particular, UNFPA has a mandate to support developing countries in building policies and programmes to reduce poverty, and to ensure that every pregnancy is wanted, every birth is safe, and every young person’s potential is fulfilled. The aim of UNFPA is to bring about a world in which girls and boys have optimal opportunities to develop their full potential, to freely express themselves and have their views respected, and to live free of poverty, discrimination, and violence.

UNFPA Indonesia works together with the Government, CSOs, and young people networks to develop and implement national policies and programmes that secure the development and human rights of young people. UNFPA Indonesia is thus committed to supporting the MoH and Ministry of Education and Culture (MoEC) to incorporate comprehensive sexuality education into the national curriculum. UNFPA is also committed to providing policy advice to the MoH for the development and implementation of the National Action Plan on School Aged Child and Adolescent Health. To comprehensively address sexual and reproductive health for young people, UNFPA is supporting an innovative private sector–led social franchising model, called UNALA, for youth-friendly SRH information and services.

In this event, UNFPA would like to appreciate MoH and MoEC who has used the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (ITGSE) as the reference to develop the Module for teachers on ASRH education, with adaptation to the local social and cultural context. For your information, the ITGSE was developed as a multi-agency, collaborative effort involving UNESCO, WHO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, and UNICEF. It is intended to provide a rights-based sexual and reproductive health curriculum and assist education, health, and other authorities in developing and implementing school‐based sexuality education materials and programmes.  It provides an important platform to discuss gender issues. Curricula with this component promote mutually‐respectful, nonviolent relationships and contribute to the development of young people’s social, health, and economic potential. 87 countries have used the ITGSE as their reference in providing sexual and reproductive health education. Evidence from research reveals that these programmes have contributed to delays in initiation of sex, reduction in the frequency of sex, reduction in number of sexual partners, increased condom use, and decrease of other sexual behaviours that can lead to negative health outcomes.

I understand providing comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education is still a sensitive issue in Indonesia. That is why dialogue and cooperation is important—among ministries, UN agencies, religious and community leaders, NGOs, and youth-led organizations and networks. The perspectives we each bring need to be explored and our working relationships further fostered in order to support the MOEC’s initiative in leading the development of sexual and reproductive health education in Indonesia — both in schools and beyond their walls.

My hope for today’s workshop is that we can all share and discuss our experiences and lessons learned about the importance of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the MoH and MoEC who has lead the development of the module for teachers on adolescent reproductive health education. The module was developed comprehensively and based on age appropiate (elementary school, junior high school and senior high school). I would like to specifically express my appreciation to the MoEC, for the advice and support to develop the curriculum diversification of the module. I hope that the curriculum diversification will make the teachers more comfortable and confident in delivering the reproductive health education at schools and therefore enable young people have more access to the comprehensive – age appropiate SRH education.

I would like to thank UNESCO, WHO and UNICEF in partnering with UNFPA to support Government to develop the module for teachers on ASRH education in Indonesia. UNFPA looks forward to continuing our work with Government and all UN agencies and other partners.

UNFPA is committed to working with all of its partners to achieve universal access to sexual and reproductive health, including for young people. Meeting this goal means reducing poverty and social and economic inequality, improving the well-being of all women, men, and young people, and securing the human rights and prosperity of future generations in Indonesia.

I wish you a successful and productive workshop. Terima kasih.