UNICEF is committed to protect every child from violence, exploitation, abuse and discrimination – challenges that are especially significant during adolescence, the difficult transition from childhood to adulthood.
Like other countries of the former Soviet Union, Turkmenistan has undergone major transformation since independence in 1991. This has had a considerable impact on children. Families are increasingly under pressure, both economically and socially. With fewer people living in extended family groups in urban areas, coping mechanisms have dramatically reduced. Children and adolescents are particularly vulnerable to changes in their environment, and often seek solutions that encourage potentially risky behaviour.
UNICEF assisted in the introduction of life skills-based education in schools and youth clubs, as well as in summer camps for nearly 10,000 children. Educating young people in life skills – nutrition, hygiene, stress management, sports and prevention of risk behaviours – is the first defence in confronting the dangers of drug abuse, HIV/AIDS and other issues important to their development.
Originally introduced as an out-of-school approach for youth, life skills-based education is now an integral part of the formal education system. UNICEF has helped to develop and design both the curriculum, textbooks and communications packages for this important course.