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Teaching social and emotional life skills as a way to promote healthy behaviours

When the Curriculum Development Centre (within the Malaysian Ministry of Education) wanted to learn more about a life-skills approach to HIV/AIDS education, the UNICEF Regional Office in collaboration with its Thailand country office supported a study tour for nine ministry officials and teachers to visit two schools in Thailand. The field visit centred on HIV/AIDS education in primary and secondary classes, though it also included non-formal education programmes for out-of-school children.

According to Emmanuelle Abrioux, UNICEF Education Project Officer, the Malaysian educators were impressed with the explicit teaching on HIV/AIDS, although this approach might be difficult in some countries.

Life skills education, she explained to them, needs to encompass many health and emotional issues.

“Young people have the right to an education that also supports their developing social and emotional skills essential in making healthier choices about themselves and the relationships they enter into,” says Abrioux.

Following the study tour, Abrioux notes, the Malaysian educators were keen to widen their current health education framework within which HIV/AIDS is taught to include opportunity for young people to discuss emotions and relationships. “This is an area that young people frequently emphasize is lacking from much of the over-biologically driven information present in health curricula globally,” she adds. “But it is an issue that is of paramount interest and importance to them.”





Additional reading

Warwick, Ian and Aggleton, Peter. The role of education in promoting young people's sexual and reproductive health. Centre for Sexual Health Research, The University of Southampton, 2002.

Elias, Maurice J. Academic and social emotional learning. Educational practices series: 11. International Bureau of Education, UNESCO, 2003.


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