Students sit at desks in a white classroom. The teacher stands at the front of the room, wearing a turquoise outfit.

Grantee stories

Ensuring sustainable integration of classroom-based Life Skills Based Education (LSBE)

Grantee Partner: Aahung

Grant type: Strengthening

Priorities: Access, Youth

Country: Pakistan

64% of Pakistan’s population is younger than 30, and 29% of this population is between 15 and 29 years old (Pakistan Bureau of Statistics, 2017). Pakistani adolescents have indicated a need for reproductive health information, as research has revealed the myths and misconceptions that lead to unsafe practices such as early marriages and unintended pregnancies.

Aahung is an NGO based in Pakistan, working for improved SRHR for all across the country. Recognising young people’s need to access comprehensive and accurate information, Aahung is one of the pioneers in the implementation of Life Skills Based Education (LSBE) in Pakistan. Through their funding with AmplifyChange, Aahung have focused on how to sustainably integrate LSBE into private and public-school curricula in the province of Sindh following the government decision in 2018 to include LSBE in the school curriculum.

Students sit at desks in a white classroom. The teacher stands at the front of the room, wearing a turquoise outfit.
Students from a partner school participating in a LSBE session about menstruation.

Due to cultural barriers, programs in Pakistan have traditionally hesitated from working with adolescents and unmarried young people, resulting in inadequate access to reproductive health information and services. Culturally, adolescents are often viewed as adults after puberty, resulting in an increase in social responsibilities, including marriage and childbirth. Yet due to their gender and young age, they do not command social status within the community or hold decision-making power within the family to cope with these aspects of adult life, leaving them ill-equipped to manage their reproductive lives.

Aahung’s LSBE programmes work through each stage of the education system. Primary school programs concentrate on educating children about safeguarding their bodies and equipping them with the essential skills to communicate discomfort and mistreatment. As students grow, they are introduced to negotiation and conflict resolution skills, alongside learning about bodily changes like puberty, and gaining awareness about harassment and sexual abuse. Older youth learn curriculum addressing reproductive health topics such as HIV/AIDS, peer pressure, rights within marriage, and the significance of family planning.

The LSBE curriculum places a strong emphasis on addressing gender and power dynamics, recognising their influential role in shaping reproductive health outcomes from an early age. The curriculum also serves to dispel the stigma and sense of shame young people are made to feel with any topic pertaining to their bodies. As an eleven-year girl in a school in Karachi shares:

Previously we (me and my friends) used to be scared of the word ‘puberty’. But after LSBE and discussions with our teachers, it’s not a burden or source of anxiety anymore.

After the COVID-19 lockdown, there was a purported rise in cases of child, early, and forced marriage/union (CEFM/U) in Pakistan. Aahung’s access to its young audiences, especially girls, during this time was restricted. Aahung, with the help of AmplifyChange, re-engineered almost all its programme to online spaces and found digital means to convey SRHR information and awareness. A large repository of information in the form of live webinars with expert Q&A sessions and audio-visual aids such as 2D animated videos and infographics were created, providing timely and accurate information to young people in English, Urdu, and other regional languages. This content is available to watch on the Aahung Facebook page here.

A group of students sit and face the front of the room.
Students from an all-girls school enjoying a community theatre skit on gender.

In their work, Aahung have supported a number of components to make the inclusion of LSBE a reality in Sindh:

  • Training over 500 teachers to support the SRHR needs of students through policies and services
  • Sensitising parents on adolescent SRHR and working with them to advocate around adolescent SRHR rights and issues
  • Revision of textbooks and integration of new content into the curriculum

Implementation of LSBE across Pakistan continues to face a number of challenges including fragile education and health systems, intimidation from groups opposed to LSBE, and lack of political will. However, due to the successes of Aahung’s work in the Sindh province, other provincial governments are now working with Aahung to implement LSBE into their school curricula.

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