Building peace in the minds of men and women

Brazil-Cape Verde Workshop bringing together community communication and education in sexuality

The Brazil-Cape Verde Workshop: Educommunication and Education in Sexuality has begun in Brasilia. For six days, youth and educators from both countries will hold educommunication workshops, visit schools developing prevention activities and participate in debates with young Brazilians living with AIDS. The encounter has been organized by UNESCO in Brazil and the Youth Expression Program, a Caixa Seguros initiative.

At the workshop opening, UNESCO in Brazil’s education officer, Mariana Braga, stressed the importance of promoting sexual and reproductive rights in schools. She said that teenage pregnancy increased by 15% between 1980 and 2000 and is now the leading cause of girls dropping out of school in Brazil (10.8% of total). There are also 181,000 young people between 10 and 24 years living with HIV in Brazil, with more than half of all new cases reported in 2012 occurring in this age group. First sexual encounters are also occurring at an increasingly early age – 15.3 years of age in Brazil. "School is the institution of choice for addressing this topic. Talking about sexuality is not just talking about sex. It’s about the body, about tolerance, about a culture of peace and human rights", she said.

Caixa Seguros Coordinator for Social Marketing, Alice Scartezini talked about the experience of Youth Expression, a social program that has been promoting health and entrepreneurship among young people from 18 to 29 years of age to reduce their exposure to violence, drugs and STD/AIDS. She cited research conducted by the program in partnership with the Ministry of Health to highlight the importance of sex education in Brazil. According to the survey, four in ten young Brazilians do not consider condom use an effective method in preventing pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and 36% said they didn’t use a condom the last time they had intercourse. The research polled 1,208 young people between 18 and 29 years old in 15 states and the Federal District. "How can we talk about these issues that so many people don’t like to discuss: violence, rape, STDs? There a lot of problems, but also many solutions. The importance of this encounter is to learn about them and share them", she said.

Cape Verde – An archipelago of ten islands in the Atlantic Ocean, 640 km from the Senegalese coast, Cape Verde is a Portuguese-speaking African country.  Of the 500,000 inhabitants, one third are young people between 10 and 24 years of age. Unlike many African countries, the prevalence of HIV/Aids is low: 0.52%, as opposed to up to 20% in many other African countries.

Cape Verde’s experience in preventive education was presented by Suzana Delgado, specialist in the Directorate General of Primary and Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education of Cape Verde. She explained that her country has opted for a Space for Information and Orientation (EIO) model. Using a peer education approach, EIO is a physical space inside the school run by the students themselves with support from parents, teachers and psychologists. The model is already operating in 16 schools. The goal is to make it universal across all 44 secondary schools in the country by 2016. "The spaces are managed by the students, who participate in all phases of planning. Peer education is one of the most successful learning strategies in Cape Verde", she said.

Fábio Meireles, Human Rights Coordinator of the Diversity Secretariat of the Ministry of Education of Brazil (Secadi-MEC), also took part in the discussions. Besides challenges such as overcoming illiteracy, raising education levels for over 15’s and the promotion of youth rights, Meireles highlighted the need to accelerate the implementation of education in human rights, gender and sexual diversity.

Exchange - The Brazil-Cape Verde Workshop: Educommunication and Education in Sexuality runs until October 2, when a plan of action to extend the exchange of experiences between the two countries will be presented. The encounter brings together young people from Cape Verde advocating good practice in sex education in schools and those of Ceilândia and Sobradinho 2, who have been recognized for their activities in community communication, health promotion and the reduction of youth violence.