Body education to cover all schoolgirls

DUBAI — All girl students of sixth grade in the private schools of the UAE will receive education on puberty, menstruation cycle and reproductive system, from the new academic year 2005-06 beginning in September this year.

By M.a. Qudoos

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Published: Sat 21 May 2005, 10:42 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 8:28 PM

The education programme titled, Live Your Life, was so far limited to government schools, since it was launched in 1996. In the 2004-05 academic year, it was expanded as a prototype project to three private Arabic schools. From 2005-06, all private schools in the country are to be included, making the programme available in all the schools.

"Many English schools are contacting us anxiously to start the programme," Hala Haidar Badreddin, public health specialist at the ministry's Central Health Education Department, told Khaleej Times yesterday after a meeting with the Ministry of Education.

She said that the objective of the programme is to raise awareness among schoolgirls on physical and psychological changes that take place during puberty and to increase their knowledge on proper nutrition, personal hygiene and importance of exercise and physical activity.

The Live Your Life is being implemented by the Central Health Education Department at the Ministry of Health in collaboration with the Centre for Curriculum and Instructional Materials Development and Health Programme Department at the Ministry of Education and Youth and under the sponsorship of the Always Programme of Proctor & Gamble company.

The one-hour education session for the students at the schools starts off with a comprehensive video tape on puberty, followed by a discussion aided by the flip chart on the function of the reproductive system and menstrual cycle. Each student is given an educational kit to emphasise all issues that they have watched and discussed with the teacher in the class, Hala said.

The kit includes a booklet on puberty, adolescence and physical and emotional changes, nutrition and importance of exercise; another booklet on personal hygiene; and a sample of sanitary pad.

"The students of the government schools and the three private Arabic schools where the programme was undertaken are happy to know the subject in a formal manner and to learn that these changes take place in all the girls. Initially, they are shy during the one-hour class, but later some of them pose questions to the teacher. Eventually, having the info as a lecture in a group they do not consider it as a social taboo," she said.

She said that the girls generally have a lot of wrong information and misconception about the subject. They hear bits and pieces from unreliable sources which shapes their lives.

The parents have also appreciated the programme since there is no communication between mother and daughter on the subject due to prevailing social and cultural traditions, she said. The girls can talk to their mothers with the help of the books provided to them during the class.

To educate the students, more than 150 science teachers from 83 of the country's 100 government schools, were trained during 2003-04 by gynaecologists and psychologists or psychiatrists, on all aspects of puberty and the menstruation cycle, specially the physical and psychological changes, Hala said.

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