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Teacher and psychologist Aizat Abdullayeva: «Both parties – boys and girls - are responsible for reproductive health»

27 May 2019
“I noticed that discussions on this topic drew a response from the students. They need this information and I think that it will only help, not harm them,” said Aizat.

“Sooner or later there comes a time when every boy and every girl has to make a vitally important decision concerning their sexual and reproductive health,” says teacher and psychologist Aizat Abdullayeva. “It’s good if young people are equipped with knowledge that can help them make those decisions. But what if such knowledge is inaccessible?”

 

Aizat taught valeology in college #12 in Saryagash within the projectPromotion of GirlsEmpowerment in the Turkestan oblast”. In an interactive format during the lessons students were learning the basics of family values, reproductive health, the inadmissibility of gender-based violence and other aspects of a healthy family life.

 

“Unfortunately, in our country very few families raise topics of sexual and reproductive health. Partly because it means that parents needs to overcome their own sensitivities and insecurities. Besides, there is a stereotype that having such discussions can stir up an unhealthy interest in early sex life,” said Aizat.

 

However, results of the evaluations show that just the opposite is true. Students in the treatment group (where valeology was taught) have become a lot more informed about HIV and AIDS than the students in the control group where valeology wasn’t taught. If in the beginning nobody knew anything about either HIV or AIDS, after the course was taught almost 5% of students could answer all the relevant questions about this infection. In the control group the number of students informed on HIV and AIDS was reduced to zero. At the same time in the treatment group resilience to life's challenges has risen from 18,1% to 40,3%.

 

In addition to information about family values, human reproductive system, sexual and moral development, healthy lifestyle, harmfulness of smoking and alcohol and sexually transmitted infections, the new valeology course includes chapters on the equality of women and men, non-violence in a family and harmful effects of such practices as child and forced marriages.

 

“I noticed that discussions on this topic drew a response from the students. They need this information and I think that it will only help, not harm them,” said Aizat.

 

The course uses interactive teaching methods based on a “peer to peer” approach whereby a teacher gives guidance and students find answers to questions by critically re-thinking the information through role-play and writing essays and other exercises.

 

“In my opinion, this is the most efficient way of communicating to adolescents the importance of such sensitive topics, because they sort of “live through” various situations, including challenging situations, and learn to be responsible adults. They become more seasoned,” says Aizat, “this prepares them for making important decisions and helps protect oneself from mistakes.”

 

Aizat says that the course helped her, too: she re-thought her own attitude to comprehensive sexuality education. She has two children – a four-year old daughter and a three-year old son.

 

“After the course we decided in my family that we’re going to talk with our children about reproductive health. This is a far too important topic to not do so. I also think that valeology should be part of a school curriculum, at least as an optional course,” she says.

 

Aizat admits that, in addition to introducing sexuality education, established belief systems need to be challenged to improve reproductive health.

 

“There is a Kazakh proverb: “If you want to protect your homeland, then educate your son; if you want to preserve your nation – educate your daughter”. I would say it differently now: “If you want to preserve your nation – educate both your son and your daughter,” she said. “Because both parties – boys and girls – are responsible for reproductive health.”