Sexual Reproductive Health Education for Ethnic Minority Youth
Chim Phanet, 31, is a teacher at Ou Chum Lower Secondary School in Ratanak Kiri—one of Cambodia’s most remote provinces—where he has taught for the past seven years.
He is also the school’s designated information communication technology (ICT) and sexual reproductive health (SRH) core trainer, responsible for building the capacity of his colleagues on how to teach these topics. In 2017, Chim Phanet took part in CARE Cambodia’s Know & Grow project, which aims to empower adolescents —particularly marginalised ethnic minority adolescents—to expand their life options through access to relevant, quality education to become engaged ASEAN citizens.
Through this project, Chim Phanet and other core trainers from 11 lower secondary schools in Ratanak Kiri Province participated in a workshop on how to build the capacity of teachers to deliver SRH curriculum in their school, a process known as training of trainers (ToT) that aims to achieve sustainable outcomes for communities. This workshop was based on CARE Cambodia’s SRH teaching manual, which was developed in close collaboration with key stakeholders—teachers, school directors, house parents, school support committee (SSC) members, representatives from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS), and village elders—to ensure it is both age and culturally-appropriate for adolescent children in Cambodia. Moreover, this manual is based on the MoEYS’s approved SRH curriculum, to ensure it works in unison with the Ministry’s approach to this topic.
Through training with CARE Cambodia, Chim Phanet learnt methodologies for teaching students about sensitive topics relating to SRH. He also gained knowledge on how to engage with ethnic minority students in a culturally-appropriate manner and generate their interest in the SRH curriculum, through games and group discussions. During an interview, Chim Phanet spoke about his increased confidence to teach students about SRH and build the capacity of his colleagues to do the same. He said that this training is necessary for improving access to information on SRH for adolescence, which is important for their physical and social development.
One of the reasons why Chim Phanet thinks this knowledge is crucial for lower secondary students is because it helps to dispel common misconceptions that exist surrounding SRH, such as those regarding the use of contraception, HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and gender-based violence (GBV). Through providing students with correct information and raising their awareness of the issues mentioned above, they are more likely to make informed decisions about their future, such as, at what age they may want to get married and their approach to family planning, he said.
Moreover, Chim Phanet believes that through increased knowledge, students are more likely to develop positive, respectful attitudes and relationships with each other, which has benefits at both the individual and societal levels for improving gender equity, power relationships between males and females, and for addressing GBV.