Building peace in the minds of men and women

Young people from Brazil and Cape Verde strike cooperation in education in sexuality

The Brazil-Cape Verde Workshop: Educommunication and Education in Sexuality came to an end on Wednesday (02 October), in Brasilia. For six days, young people and educators from both countries held workshops in educommunication, visited schools developing activities in prevention and participated in discussions with young Brazilians living with AIDS. Conducted by UNESCO in Brazil and the Youth Expression Program, the meeting brought together Cape Verdeans who are protagonists of good practice in sex education in schools and young Brazilians who have been recognized for their activities in community communication, health promotion and the reduction of youth violence.

UNESCO in Brazil’s Education Officer, Mariana Braga, says the exchange was important and will continue. Young people from the two countries will participate in monthly virtual conferences and in February it will Cape Verde’s turn to receive the Brazilians. A delegation will be made up of members of the Youth Expression Program, an initiative of Caixa Seguros and the Union of Favelas (Cufa-DF) who motivate entrepreneurship and the promotion of health among young people between 18 and 29 years old. This initiative has been supported by UNESCO in Brazil since 2011.
The exchange 

The eight young Cape Verdeans who participated in the workshop are monitors of what they call Spaces for Information and Orientation (EIO). These spaces are the government of the country’s main vehicle for promoting prevention and sex education in schools. 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. "Many people are uncomfortable talking about these things with older people and it is easier for us to talk peer to peer," explains Cape Verdean student and EIO monitor, 15 year-old Cintia da Veiga.
On the Brazilian side, “expression youth”, Davidson Pereira, 28, pointed out the similarity of approaches taken by young people in both countries. Although prioritizing seemingly distinct issues - sex education in schools and educational communication - he says that their strategies are similar: young people talking to young people. "Previously our communication was very institutional. We saw the need to use our own language and create this sort of direct communication", he says. The lesson has been taken up by “expression youth”, Thais Moreira, 22, who will take these new methodologies to the Sol Nascente community the poorest of the Federal District, with around 60,000 inhabitants. "I'm going to give photography classes and the group dynamics that I have learned here will help a lot in connecting with the young people there," she says.
Education in Sexuality

It is UNESCO's mission to offer technical cooperation to the Ministries of Education and Health of Brazil in relation to preventive education for STDs, HIV infection, teenage pregnancy and health promotion in schools. The objective is to integrate the education and health sectors focusing on promoting the sexual and reproductive health of young students.

According to IBGE figures, 97.4% of 6 to 14 year-olds and 87.7% of 15 to 19 year-olds have access to school in Brazil, regardless of monthly income. In addition, 89.4% of students in private schools and 87.5% of public school students say they receive guidance on STDs and AIDS, whilst 71.4% of public school students and 65.8% of private school students say they receive guidance on how to get free condoms.

"School should be the place that provides the best health training for the individual.  It's no use avoiding, hiding or running away from the subject. It is better to confront it, to teach boys and girls and instruct them on how to protect themselves from disease and illness. This is the smart and healthy option, providing the expertise to those who need it", says UNESCO in Brazil’s, Education Officer, Mariana Braga.

According to her, teenage pregnancy increased by 15% between 1980 and 2000 and is now the leading cause of school dropouts among girls in Brazil (10.8% of the total). AIDS cases are also a concern, as young people (13-29 year-olds) make up 27.6% of HIV carriers in the country. In Cape Verde, one of the main challenges is early pregnancy. Unlike many other African countries though, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS is considered low: 0.52%, compared to 20% in countries with the highest incidences of the disease.

"More than half the population of Cape Verde is under 22 years of age. There is no way not to prioritize youth." says Susan Delgado, head of the Cape Verdean delegation and specialist in the Directorate General of Primary and Secondary Education of the Ministry of Education of Cape Verde.