Recently OneWorld UK in collaboration with Education as a Vaccine against AIDS (EVA) launched "Learning about Living", an e-learning tool based on the Nigerian Family Life and HIV/AIDS Education (FLHE) school curriculum.
The programme which was also supported by MTN Foundation and National Agency for AIDS Control (NACA), is anchored on three main goals, one of which aims to use ICT to educate young people on issues around adolescent reproductive health so that they can make informed decisions about their sexual health, prevent HIV/AIDS and maternal mortality, and gender violence.
Secondly, it aims to improve information available on sex education to be more open about these issues and forth coming about their questions.
The third goal is to increase and improve gender equality by offering positive alternatives to existing beliefs that assume male superiority and contribute to an acceptance of gender based violence against women in society.
Speaking at the launch, the project manager of OneWorld UK, Uju Ofomata explained that, educating young people is pivotal in the fight against AIDS in Nigeria, and when working with young people, it is more important to do it in an engaging and exciting way by speaking to youth in the language they can grasp. Using information and communication technology is doing just that.
While reaffirming the need for information services for young people, the executive director of EVA, Kemi Akinfaderin said adolescence is a period when young people go through a lot of changes, and it is important to create safe spaces for young people to come forward with their sensitive questions.
Learning about Living has two informational services for young people, which include 'MyQuestion' that enables young people to ask questions through text messages, online or using a telephone hotline.
This medium provides three free channels with options for most young people according to their situation and choice. THISDAY checks gathered that even a shy teenager would feel comfortable to position his/her questions about sexual health as they may not have to say the question loud.
The second service is 'MyAnswer', a competition where young people have the opportunity of winning prizes by answering a monthly question.
The competition opened on World AIDS Day, December 1, 2007, with the question "What is the difference between HIV and AIDS" requires young people to text their answer to the provider number or online.
MyAnswer which aims to engage and motivate young people to learn and reflect on various issues will produce ten winners picked each month amongst the accurate entries to win airtime.
Meanwhile, MyQuestion operates on a free toll mode available on MTN mobiles, and requires participants to send questions and receive answers by text message via 38120.
For phone calls which are toll free from Celtel phones, the hotline is 08027192780-2, and standard rates from other lines.
In addition, questions can be e-mailed to
MyQ@learningaboutliving.comor asked on www.learningaboutliving.com/MyQ, Uju said.
Similarly, MyAnswer announces the question of the month that leads young people into the competition by a text or by completing the online form. The prize is airtime sponsored by MTN and NACA, and announced in radio programmes, through schools and youth organisations.
Moreover, this multi-stakeholder project involving Nigeria and International partners came against the backdrop that most young people in Nigeria lacked the basic knowledge about issues of sexuality, gender and rights.
This became imperative since; the adolescents (10-19 years) who make up about 22% of the population are constantly at a risk occasioned by poverty, early marriage, sexual harassment and abuse, teenage pregnancy and complications from unsafe abortion.
In addition, the organisers warned that since most adolescents are not free to ask and get some basic facts about sexuality from their parents, the effort to combat HIV/AIDS may not bear fruit.
However, this mechanism has provided an effective leeway through which some of their fears would be addressed, since these age bracket are the most vulnerable group to sexually transmitted diseases, including the dreaded HIV/AIDS pandemic.
The programme which is being piloted in Lagos, Cross River and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) in collaboration with local NGOs and state ministries of education will be for in and out of school youths through the use of computer.
This 3 in 1 programme also works with mobile phone services in order to reach those who do not have access to a computer.
At the launch, the founder, OneWorld UK, Peter Armstrong said: "The programme will help to reduce some of the barriers encountered in promoting the FLHE curriculum for young people in schools including lack of resources and materials, lack of trained personnel in FLHE implementation, poor financial resources base from implementing FLHE programmes, and socio-cultural tendencies that lead to reluctance to open discussions on sexuality issues".
Source: All Africa Global Media