The Government of Balochistan has taken a practical and much-needed step to protect children by introducing the Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) programme into the provincial education curriculum.
Under the programme, students from grade six to nine will be taught LSBE prepared by the Karachi-based NGO, Aahung, to create awareness in children about physical and sexual abuse, nutrition needs, diseases and protection of their rights. In the early primary school years, Aahung’s programmes focus on body protection and child sexual abuse (CSA) prevention and critical skills in communicating discomfort and mistreatment.
In the middle school years, negotiation and conflict resolution skills are introduced along with information on physical changes during puberty and awareness about harassment and sexual abuse. And as they approach high school, topics like reproductive health, HIV/AIDS, peer pressure, Nikah Nama rights, healthy relationship-building and the importance of planning a family are introduced.
A Memorandum of Understanding was signed between Aahung and the Balochistan Education Department in May this year to integrate the LSBE into the provincial curriculum.
The programme was officially launched in a ceremony held on Sunday, Jul 1, 2018 and was led by the provincial government leadership including interim Chief Minister Allahuddin Mari, Secretary of Secondary Education Noor-ul-Haq Baloch, Focal Person PPIU Jahangeer Kakar, Founder and President of Zindagi Trust Shehzad Roy and Programme Manager of Aahung, Aisha Ijaz.
The event was also attended by the key stakeholders from the Balochistan Education Department, who will play a key role in integrating the LSBE into the curriculum. They expressed their desire to implement the programme as quickly as possible for the safety of the children of Balochistan and have high hopes that it will protect and empower their children.
The LSBE has been successfully implemented in the government schools of Sindh, thanks to the work of Aahung and Shehzad Roy’s Zindagi Trust. Both the Chief Minister and the Secretary of Secondary Education thanked Roy for taking the initiative to bring LSBE to Balochistan. They pledged their commitment to support Aahung and Zindagi Trust in order to ensure smooth integration of LSBE into the provincial curriculum of Balochistan.
Roy thanked the Balochistan government for taking the initiative forward and urged other provinces to come forward and show their solidarity in protecting all of Pakistan’s children. “When this year started, we all said we don’t want another child like Zainab to suffer. Sindh and now Balochistan have shown leadership on this issue but what are the other provinces waiting for?” he said.
He shared his experience of implementing LSBE in the two government schools managed by the Zindagi Trust in Sindh and said that there was visible impact of the programme in the lives of students and the school environment.
A Project Coordination Committee (PCC) and Technical Advisory Committee (TAC) have been set up to ensure ownership of the said initiative. The TAC will also be responsible for reviewing Aahung’s LSBE modules and integrating relevant content into existing textbooks for grades six to nine. Simultaneously, a pilot LSBE project will be carried out in 10 schools of Quetta to assess the impact of LSBE.
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