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 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. Educating young people in life skills is the first defence in confronting the dangers of drug abuse and HIV/AIDS, and other issues important to their development.
While Turkmenistan has reported extremely low prevalence of HIV/AIDS, there is potentially, a risk of infection due to increased drug use and the incidence of sexually transmitted diseases among certain populations.
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 and textbooks for this important course.