Strengthening Access to Quality Comprehensive Health Education in The Gambia is an implementation research project conducted by Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education funded by International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada.
The overall aim of the study was to look into the obstacles to implementation of comprehensive health education (CHE), while the generated information is used to design and implement relevant school and community-based programmes in Western Region 1, of Kanifing Municipality Council - which has a large population of children and adolescents.
The dissemination forums which started on 26 February through 17 March, 2021 was able to bring together different segment of religious leaders, National Assembly Members (NAMs), relevant ministries, members of PTAs, principals, teachers, CSOs, NGOs, PDAG, reps of SSWH, officials of MoBSE, MoHERST, MoH, researchers and community facilitators for out of school children, among other stakeholders for interactions to look for solutions to the challenges and make recommendations, chart the way for the implementation of the comprehensive health education (CHE) in the country.
Meanwhile, some key findings include adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) issues, challenges to implementing comprehensive health education for adolescents in and out-of-school as reported by staff of NGOs, civil society organisations and school authorities.
The principal investigator of the project for Strengthening Access to Quality Comprehensive Health Education for in-and-out of School Adolescents in Region I, Mrs. Phebian Ina Grant-Sagnia said the lack of coordination across various implementing agencies of sexual and reproductive health programs; funding gaps for sexual and reproductive health programs; policy restrictions and societal norms that perceived discussions on sexual and reproductive health issues as highly culturally sensitive were all reported as major obstacles to implementing programmes on sexual and reproductive health education for out of school adolescents.
She pointed out that inadequate teaching hours spent on sexual and reproductive health topics and limited stakeholder participation in curriculum development among others are major challenges to implementing comprehensive health education for adolescents in school.
Among other things, Mrs Grant-Sagnia said the expected outcomes of the study will be identification of challenges to implementation of comprehensive health education and changes in understanding, behaviour and practices at the individual, institutional and community levels towards effective health education and information and access to health services for adolescents at the end of the project.