For Sister Antoinette Ake, Deputy Principal of Mainohana Secondary School, the opportunity to participate in the Australian aid-funded Rights, Respect & Resilience project has been a ‘blessing’.
Located four hours’ drive from Port Moresby in Papua New Guinea (PNG), the school faces a number of challenges that prevent teachers from adequately delivering Personal Development classes to its students. Like many other teachers in PNG, they lack the resources, skills and confidence to effectively deliver comprehensive sex and relationships education, reflecting cultural taboos restricting open discussion about these issues.
In PNG, where teen pregnancy causes many young women to leave school early, and more than one in three women experience violence in their relationships, efforts to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they need for safe, equitable, respectful and healthy relationships in the future are necessary. But shifting social norms and influencing attitudes requires comprehensive tools and confident, skilled teachers.
This is where theRights, Respect & Resilience project will make a valuable contribution. ChildFund Australia’s project, supported by the Australian Government under the Gender Action Platform (GAP), aims to build the knowledge, skills and attitudes that promote sexual and reproductive health, foster respectful gender relationships and reduce gender-based violence (GBV). It is a joint initiative of ChildFund PNG and Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA) of PNG, working closely with Government partners in the education sector. Teachers from a range of schools, including Mainohana Secondary School, will receive training and support to deliver a newly developed learning resource to their students.
Project staff have begun work developing the learning resources – which are adapted from a number of existing resources from other countries – in close consultation with teachers and other stakeholders. This includes lesson-plans on basic sexual health knowledge and skills, gender rights and respectful relationships, self-care, peer support and help-seeking, and access to health services. Students and teachers will also be connected to help through the 1-Tok Kaunselin Helpim Lain, PNG’s first national telephone counselling service, established by ChildFund PNG.
Sister Ake expressed her thanks for the opportunity for her school to participate in the project. She is optimistic that by the project’s end her teachers will feel comfortable and confident teaching Personal Development classes to PNG’s young men and women.