Sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) are concerned with a number of issues ranging from maternal and infant health to sexual violence. In many developing countries, sexual and reproductive health is recognized as an essential component of poverty reduction, particularly in relation to reducing high fertility and mortality rate, the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, and addressing sexual violence.
The inter-relationships between SRHR and education
SRHR relates to education in various direct and indirect ways. First of all, what is concerning to many educators is the fact that schools are sites where some of the most distressing concerns relating to SRHR originate, such as sexual abuse, spread of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Moreover, the education system is burdened with various SRHR concerns such as unwanted pregnancies, sexual abuse, early marriage and HIV/AIDS and other STIs, as they tend to negatively influence students’ academic achievement, attendance rate, and the quality of their educational experiences, leading in some cases to early drop-out. For instance, adolescents who become pregnant are likely to have lower educational attainments, in part due to policies in some countries permitting or mandating expulsion of pregnant students. Despite some recent policies aimed at keeping pregnant girls at school, in practice few girls continue with their schooling during their pregnancies due to stigma, bullying and discrimination. Likewise, sexual abuse has wide-ranging negative consequences on the individuals involved. In addition to its harmful effects on the well-being, psychological and intellectual development of girls and boys who were subjected to it, sexual abuse also has consequences on their education. When it takes place between peers or when the perpetrator is a teacher, victims might feel agony about coming to school, or be present in a specific class. These might eventually lead to school alienation and withdrawal.
Furthermore, education can play important and powerful roles in addressing some of the most distressing concerns related to SRHR. Children and young people spend a great deal of their time at schools due to increasing number of enrolments rates at primary and secondary schools in developing countries in the past decades. Hence, childhoods have increasingly become institutionalized worldwide; and schools have developed into key networks of social relations. Consequently, schools play a highly important role in socializing children and young people on various issues that are central to their life, including gender relations and sexuality. For this reason, whether a specific school provides education on sexuality through prescribed curriculum or not, every school is in fact involved in ‘educating’ its children and youth through an informal, hidden curriculum which enables its students to acquire knowledge and understanding on sexuality, and to negotiate sexuality with peers and teachers within the school community.
SRHR and Education within IS Academie programme
Within the framework of IS Academie programme, we are organising various research activities in order to explore the nexus between SRHR and education. For this purpose, we co-operate with the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs, OXFAM/NOVIB and EDUKANS. Some of our research output, and studies conducted by our Master students are listed below:
- Miedema, E., and Millei, Z. (2015) ‘‘We reaffirm our Mozambican identity in the fight against HIV & AIDS’; emplacing young people through HIV- and AIDS-related education in Mozambique’. Special Issue Global Studies of Childhood, 5(1), pp. 7-18.
- Miedema, E., Maxwell, C. & Aggleton, P. (2014). The unfinished nature of rights-informed HIV- and AIDS-related education: a discussion of three school-based initiatives. Sex Education: Sexuality, Society and Learning.
- Altinyelken, H.K., & Olthoff, J. (2014). Education and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights: A Review of the Critical Debates. The Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR), University of Amsterdam.
- Anna Page (2016). Navigating Liminal Spaces: An examination of the impacts of the youth group participation on young people’s social exclusion in rural Western Kenya. [Supervisor: Esther Miedema]
- Yvonne van der Kooij (2016). Early Marriage in West Java: Understanding girls’ agency in the context of ‘traditional’ and changing norms regarding gender and sexuality. [Supervisor: Esther Miedema]
- Jasmijn van Holsteijn (2015). Rituals between tradition and globalization: A case study of harmful practices and girls education in the Amhara region, Ethiopia [Master thesis, supervised by Esther Miedema]
- Carlien van Dijken (2015). Onderwijs: de weg naar gendergelijkheid? [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Yury Esperanza Farieta (2015). Are we ready to talk about sex to youth? A qualitative case study in Colombia. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Frances Hague (2014). Limited but opportunistic: investigating adolescent girls’ agency in accessing and completing secondary and higher-secondary education in Nepal [Master thesis, supervised by Esther Miedema]
- Signe Hawley (2014). Hospitals, Witch Doctors and Churches: Urban young people’s perspectives on health education and services in Mwanza, Tanzania [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Natalie Browes (2014). The Strategies of Teachers and Students in Sexuality Education: The Case of One School-Based Programme in Ethiopia. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Vicoria La Bella (2014). Incorporating Sexuality Education in the Public School System: Perceptions from the Philippenes. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Marielle Le Mat (2013). Addressing Sexual Violence in Schools: Perspectives from Teachers and Students in a Secondary School in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Maartje van der Meulen (2013). Unexpected Agency: An Analysis of the Individual and Collective Coping Strategies of Children of Sex Workers. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Ingrid Gercama (2013). Online Sins and Offline Sex: an Explorative Study on the Sexual Agency of Adolescents in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala. [Master thesis, supervised by Jacobijn Olthoff]
- Annemarie Schaapveld (2013). Participation in Sexuality Education Curricula: does it lead to Local Ownership? A Case Study in Ethiopia. [Master thesis, supervised by Hülya Kosar Altinyelken]
- Kayleigh Boerjan (2013). HIV/AIDS-related Stigma on Women in Kwazulu-Natal: Investigating how the Stigma is Perceived and how it can be Reduced. [Master thesis, supervised by Jacobijn Olthoff]
- Alexandra Collier (2013). An exploration of Women’s SRHR Empowerment in Central Eastern Uganda through Participatory Action Research. [Master thesis, supervised by Winnie Koster]
- Josien Reijer (2013). A long Road to Recovery: well-being of PLHIV on ART in Lusaka, Zambia. [Master Thesis, supervised by Ton Dietz]
- Karen Smith (2012). The Taboo and the Teacher: Youth Sexuality and Teachers’ Education Strategies for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights in Kenyan Maasai Land. [Master thesis, supervised by Mieke Lopes Cardozo]
- Jemma Barker (2010). Fighting HIV/AIDS in Malawi: Exploring the Underlying Factors that play a role in the Spread of HIV/AIDS amongst Teenage Girls in Zomba, Malawi. [Master thesis, supervised by Jacobijn Olthoff]
- Renee Blaisse (2010). Teenage Pregnancy in Breede River, South Africa: a Contextualization of Experiences and Perceptions. [Master thesis, supervised by Jacobijn Olthoff]
- Ekaterina Nikolava (2009). “Dormant” Agency: Understanding Obstacles and Stimuli to Exit from Ritual Prostitution [Master thesis, supervised by Jacobijn Olthoff]