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Life Skill Education for Adolescents- A Dilemma for Trainers

Life Skill Education for Adolescents- A Dilemma for Trainers

Adolescence is the stormiest period in life. It is a transition period that bridges childhood and adulthood. Adolescents face major physical, emotional and psychological changes due to hormonal changes in the body. It is a period of confusion, aggression and storm and stress for many adolescents.

Adolescents are considered to be productive members of the society due to their physical and intellectual capacity. They are the future youth generation. But unfortunately it is observed that adolescents are not able to utilize their potential to the best due to inappropriate social, family and school environment.  It is period when adolescents try to establish their own identity and get drift away from the parents. They prefer to spend more time with peers, follow and confirm ideas and values of peers nd most of the time peer pressure and peer Influence shapes their behavior. It is the time when they engaged themselves in many antisocial activities like social crimes addictions, thefts and high risk behavior:

Unfortunately needs of the adolescents are not addressed in the family due to lack of communication and rigid mindset of the parents and cultural influences. Also our present school curriculum does not accommodate these things in school syllabus. Apart from that school environment is not very conducive to discuss these sensitive issues with teachers. To the certain extent it is observed that teachers prefer to avoid or remain quiet even to teach certain topics related to HIV/AIDS and sexuality in the classroom. As a result Adolescence seek information through blue films, pornographic literature and indulge in high risk sexual practices. This transition is so crucial that adolescents face problems in certain areas of life such as substance abuse, parent child conflict violence, risky behavior,criminal activities and love affair and flirting relationship. All these problems ultimately affects their academic performance in schools. Sometimes they are even thrown out of the school due to scholastic backwardness.They even lose concentration in studies due to influence of media, availability of mobiles, money and access to intemets. Need for Life Skill Education To make life of Adolescents productive and to increase their potential, educational system should be reformed to give importance to life skill education.

According to WHO life skills are defined as abilities in individuals to deal effectively with demands and challenges of everyday life. LSE provide students with skills and strategies to make healthy choices for meaningful life. It prepares adolescents to face realities of life and to differentiate right and wrong. It increasesse Self-motivation, awareness and helps to build positive self-image. LSE brings integrated development of individual. It prepares adolescents to avoid risky situations in life, increases decision making ability. Acquisition of knowledge from lifeskill training influences attitudes, values leading to positive behavior which in turn helps in prevention of high risk behavior. The core set of life skills are: Decision making, Problem solving, Creative thinking, Critical thinking, Effective communication, Interpersonal relationship skills, Self-awareness, Empathy, Coping with emotions, Coping with stress and Identifying risky situations. About Pankh Pankh is non-governmentorganization {NGO) works for overall development of women and adolescent children from all strata of society.

Objectives are:

1) Physical, psychological, emotional and intellectual development of children from all strata of the society 
2) To conduct Life Skill Education programme for adolescent children (both boys and girls)
3) To impart formal and informal education to dropouts from school. To provide skill and vocational training to poor, uneducated women and children from low socio-economic group 
4) To spread importance of adolescent education, health education, yoga, meditation, exercise, sports and games 
5) To develop psychological counseling and guidance center for adolescent children and women.

Methodology: Present data are based on LSE programme implemented in the past 1 year in 27 corporation schools in Pune city. It included Marathi, English and Urdu medium schools. Overall 3000 children of 9th and 10th standard were imparted LSE education. LSE modules were developed by psychologist and experts according to developmental levels of adolescents, separately for 9th and 10th standard students by expert trainers. The whole project is funded by CSR division of Quickheal company. Teachers were purposely asked not to remain present in the class during these sessions as children hesitate to talk in front of the teachers and also to maintain confidentiality. In order to give complete information, time of question and answer is kept towards the end (for % anhr. after session. Letter box approach)

LSE Module: Pankh LSE module developed and implemented by Pankh covers following issues 1) self awareness, 2) being positive, 3) adolescent sexuality (boys and girls), 4) gender issues, 5) friendship, love and flirting relationship, 6) child sexual abuse, 7) HIV, 8) addiction, 9) emotional management, 10) stress management, 11) study skills and 12) career guidance.

Methods used in LSE: Issues identified in the module are relevant to the situations of the children in difficult circumstances. Most of the children come from slums and lower socio-economic strata. This initiative is to equip every adolescent (between 10 to 16yrs) in municipal schools to protect themselves from HIV infection, sexual abuse and to promote reproductive and sexual health. In Life Skill Education children are actively involved in the teaching and learning process. Various methods are used to facilitate active involvement including working in small groups, group discussion, quiz method, role plays, games, songs, story telling, charts, films and lecture method. Children are encouraged to maintain separate notebooks to express their emotions, thoughts and feedback of LSE sessions.

Outcome of LSE Programme
1. Increase self-acceptance and builds positive self-image
2. Promotion of personal and social development
3. Prevention of high risk behavior and anti social activities
4. Helps to identify feelings, learn emotional control and emotional management
5. Handle stress situations in life, ultimately stress management techniques
6. Increase concentration in studies, improves academic performance
7. To handle adverse and difficult situations in life. To take help of police and law in necessary situations
8. Learn to respect other gender, avoid gender discrimination

Barriers to sex education Priorities, Educational attainment vs sex, Need, Impact, Social Appropriateness, Elimination and Session timings.

Dilemmas/ Barriers faced by trainer
1} Barrier about appropriateness of contents and delivery of the session- Sexuality education for boys and girls covers various topics like male reproduction, female reproduction, menstruation for girls, birth of the baby, sex determination, methods of contraception etc. Trainers always face dilemma about content of these session. Information delivered has to be age and gender appropriate. Sometimes presence of school authorities during the session indirectly restricts students from establishing dialogue with trainer.
2} Denial due to religious framework and cultural inappropriateness- In one of the schools, girl students demanded to show condom during session. But the trainer was unable to show it as permission was not granted by school authorities. In Muslim and Urdu schools, it was mandatory to discuss the content of sexuality sessions with the principal as she told that it is not culturally appropriate to teach these things in the classroom. Prior to these sesssions she told the trainers: “Aap Baccho ko Itana Khulke Mat Bataiye, Thoda Dhak Ke Bataiye.” (“Please do not be so open with the children, be a little discrete (about the information)”
3) In one of the schools, teachers insisted to cancel the session on homosexuality because they thought that children will lose their concentration in studies and it will adversely affect their performance in the examination.
4) Dilemma about Impact- Still today many schools have lots of reservations about imparting sex education to children. They have misconceptions that it might lead to sexual promiscuity and it will increase their high risk behavior.
5) LSE education is not part of school curriculum. NGO has to struggle with school authorities to allocate time for these sessions. School authorities have priorities about completing study portion and examination. Life Skill Education is not on their priority list.
6) In some pockets majority of the children are from slum areas. After the sessions children openly admit that they indulge in high risk sexual practices, they frequently visit red light areas. Children ask the trainer about the drugs available in the market to increase sexual stamina, length of the penis, masturbation, types and availability of condoms, consumption of liquor to increase sexual stamina. Many of them visit video parlours to watch blue films. It is observed that children are obsessed with sexual thoughts and it is big challennge to divert them to studies. Due to confidentiality, the trainer cannot disclose the names of children to the teacher. Also it was experienced that some school authorities flatly refused to admit that children are indulging in high risk behavior.
7) Fear of losing scientific value of these session- In sexuality education, the trainer uses the terminologies that are understood by the children but there is an underlying fear of losing scientific value in the information.

Limitations of LSE- The most important limitation is of time. Schools have packed schedules for the entire year. School authorities find it difficult to make adjustments in their schedules for accommodating sessions on sex education and hence it was experienced that only about 20 sessions of one clock hour each is inadequate to deliver all contents of the session and to answer queries of the students. The second constraint is of the content itself and is related to perceived appropriateness of content. For example, many schools do not permit the trainers to demonstrate a condom or there are certain objections to some scenes in educational films. Thirdly, it is important to have a trainer of the same gender as that of the students. In fact some schools have voiced this demand. Students are comfortable if the trainer is of the same sex. Female trainers also face issues because male students, at times, try to ask inappropriate questions which put the trainers in an embarrassing position. Lastly, the trainers have to move to the next school after sessions in one school are done with. There are many occasions when issues raised by the students remain unaddressed if it is not supported by counseling centers in schools.

Areas of Interest / Categories: Child and Adolescent Health, Sexology 2016