By: Sehrish Wasif
ISLAMABAD: To impart formal education to adolescents about sexual reproductive health rights (SRHR), the Women’s Empowerment Group (WEG) on Wednesday launched a comprehensive nationwide curriculum.
The curriculum was launched at a conference and was attended by officials from concerned ministries, journalists, religious scholars, parliamentarians and human rights activists.
Dr Tariq Mehmood, a curriculum specialist at WEG, told The Express Tribune that curriculum has been launched in two levels for sixth to tenth graders. One level is for children between ages 10-12 while level two is designed for youngsters between ages 13-15.
Mehmood said they have printed several booklets on SRHR, which would be integrated with the existing 15 subjects in the school syllabus and will be distributed among teachers and students.
“Though we have launched the curriculum, however, the biggest challenge is its integration by the federal and provincial governments in the syllabus of public schools,” he said.
At the conference, Capital Administration and Development Division Joint Educational Adviser Rafiq Tahir assured that the Islamabad Capital Territory would be the first to integrate the curriculum in the school syllabus.
WEG CEO Omer Aftab said it was going to be a huge challenge to introduce the SRHR curriculum in schools where most teachers avoid teaching students about sexual reproductive health. “There are teachers who skip pages in the textbooks containing information about reproductive health.”
Prominent religious scholars endorsed the SRHR curriculum and hoped it would provide the youth with necessary information, instead of forcing them to rely on the internet or family and friends.
Pakistan Ulema Council Chairman Tahir Ashrafi said this was the right time to start discussing core social issues considered taboo in our society.
“Islam has not put any kind of restrictions over imparting knowledge regarding SRHR and our youth should not be deprived of this basic right.”
Maulana Abdul Mateen Akhunzada, a member of Jamiat Ulma-e-Pakistan, said talking about SRHR in tribal areas of Balochistan was one of the biggest challenges as it is considered a major taboo.
“There are many women who get pregnant and lack the courage to share this news with their husbands. Sometimes they face complications but don’t tell their in-laws which may result in maternal and infant deaths,” he said.
Journalist Talat Hussain said, “Even men feel shy to ask for contraceptives.”