Children are the most vulnerable section of the society. They depend on adults for their safe, security, sustenance and their life decisions. Keeping them Ignorant about basic realities of life makes them easy prey to criminal elements in the society. We cannot be with our children 24/7 but we can give them skills to assess situations, raise alarm when they feel threatened and take the right decisions at the right time. Life Skills Based Education is designed to do exactly that but we are still reluctant to include it in our mainstream curriculum.
Zainab shock the entire nation and mobilised us in finding solutions for the safety and security of our children. Media was talking about it, government was holding meeting but years later what have we changed to ensure the safety of this vulnerable group.
Civil society organisation keeps generating irrefutable evidence by implementing projects on small scale in schools. For the first time one such project Safer-e-Hifazat was implemented in public schools in Lahore by Nur Center for Research and policy.
Life Skill Based Education (LSBE) is taught in schools in the developed world because it empowers children and young people with knowledge and skills and enables them to make informed choices and lead a safe and secure life. In Pakistan, despite a robust civil society campaign and media engagement, Life Skill Based Education is still not included in the mainstream curriculum of our education system.
The findings from Nur Center for Research and Policy’s (NCRP) recently implemented research project “Safer-e-Hifazat” provide irrefutable evidence that teaching LSBE is essential for better and secure future. Due to Covid -19 Pandemic and the resulting unscheduled school shut downs - the year long training was cut short to four months only but even the four months long LSBE training made a significant difference between children’s confidence level, they were empowered to make informed choices about their health and well-being.
Project Safar-e-Hifazat was implemented by NCRP under Nur Foundation and AmplifyChange in which LSBE was delievered in Governement schools in Lahore to girls and boys (aged 13 to 14). Before implementing LSBE they conducted a baseline survey and endline survey to assess the impact of LSBE on health, safety and self-esteem of the students.
Students (girls and boys) aged 13 to 14 years in Lahore Government schools show significant improvement in their attitude and awareness on important life skills that has raised their confidence and self-esteem.
According to a report by Sahil organisation, as many as 1,489 children, at least eight per day, were sexually abused in the country, from January to June, 2020. Given the rising incidence of abuse and violence against children all across Pakistan, and absence of supportive relationships and information sources available to adolescents, it is essential to educate and empower adolescents on forms of abuse and strategies for protection. Such awareness will enable them to lead a safe and healthy life.
“A few days ago, an incident took place in my area (of residence). A young boy’s friend misguided him by taking him away to a faraway place. After that, he drugged him and abused him sexually. If that boy had the knowledge of LSBE, he wouldn’t have followed his friend. That is the reason why I want everyone to study the LSBE course.”-Male Student, Govt. High School, Jalo Morr, Lahore.
“My experience of learning LSBE was very good. I learned a lot of things from it which I didn’t know before so I want others to have this education as well. There are many students who don’t know about it so we should take this to all Government and private schools so that they can also understand the difference between good touch and bad touch. I also didn’t know about it before (LSBE course) but now I can differentiate between good touch and bad touch.”-Female Student, Govt. Yasmeen Islamia Model High School, Lal Pul, Fatehgarh, Lahore.
“As you know, puberty starts at this age so girls get very curious related to many things but they don’t feel comfortable enough to ask about it from their parents, out of shame or fear. So, I think it is important to have a good friend or a good guide with them. The LSBE course Nur Foundation had taught to the students answered a lot of their questions (regarding puberty) and they also shared their problems with us and we tried to address them.”- Mother of Female Student, Govt. Millat Girls High School, Mughalpura, Lahore.
“My favourite topic was Values in the LSBE course. I liked it because through it I got to know about my own self-respect and how to protect myself from bad influence of the society.” -Male Student, Govt. High School, Jalo Morr, Lahore.
“I felt good while studying about Feelings. In the past, I would not share my feelings with anyone but now after LSBE course, I can address them (my feelings) with my parents. It turned out to be very beneficial in my life.” -Female Student, Govt. Yasmeen Islamia Model High School, Lal Pul, Fatehgarh, Lahore.
“I ride a bike, so there was a boy who used to follow me. In the start, I ignored it but when I noticed that he followed me on daily basis, I complained about him to my school security guard. I also shared it with my mom and she discussed it with my school staff. After that they all caught him and admonished him for following me. I gained this confidence from LSBE course and I can easily share such stuff with my parents. There are many students who feel hesitant to do so but they should share their issues so they can be resolved.”-Female Student, Govt. Tahir Model Girls High School, Baghbanpura, Lahore.
“Being doctors, we used to think adolescents know the basics about their body and health. Now we know the myths that surround puberty and realize how misinformed they are. Our sensitivity towards issues has increased and we now understand the importance of openly communicating with adolescents to help them understand things better.” - Female Health Care Provider, Curriculum Facilitator Fatima Memorial Hospital, Lahore.
“My favourite topic was Decision Making. I would like to share my story. I did not have the permission from my family to study. I had to fight to come to school. There was a time when I decided to leave the school but then these Doctors visited us, they taught and guided us a lot. It gave me hope that I can study as well. This is the reason why I’m still in this school today because I learned (from LSBE) and took my own decision. I’m very happy with my decision and I want to continue my education.” -Female Student, Govt. Tahir Model Girls High School, Baghbanpura, Lahore.
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