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EDUCATING YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT SEX AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH RIGHTS IN MALAYSIA

This project funded by IPPF/BMZ, “Educating Young People about Sex and Reproductive Health Rights in Malaysia” was funded by Kedah FPA with the FFPAM on beginning December 2002. Through this project, it had proven that with the support and commitment from the various stakeholders and in particular, the religious leaders, Muslim youth can be empowered to make responsible and informed decisions on family life matters in line with religious values for their healthy development.

Six Youth Centres have been established providing SRH information and services to young people. They had been carefully selected to ensure accessibility to both in-school and out-of-school/working youth. The main Youth Centre is at the main clinic of Kedah FPA in Alor Setar, while the five sub-centres are at Sungai Petani static clinic (Kedah FPA), Kangar Clinic (Perlis FPA), two schools – Mahmud College (Maktab Mahmud) and National Religious Secondary School (SMKA, Mergong) – both in Alor Setar and Youth Centre at Pendang. The centres that are located within the FPA premises comprised both a counselling-cum education centre and a clinic (jointly with the FPA regular clinic) involving and under the supervision of the FPA staff. SMKA Mergong has provided a room for the Youth Centre while at Maktab Mahmud the centre is located together with the school’s Counselling Centre. At these centres, teachers had been identified and are working closely with Kedah FPA.

The physical upgrading and improvement in service facility at these Youth Centres are almost completed. Youth-friendly features and design had already been incorporated based on feedback from the youth members. These features had been identified through a survey involving young people and further discussed during a National Advocacy Seminar held on March 2003.

The training of 50 young people to be para-counsellors via 5 skills building workshops (RHAM Program) had been successfully carried out through a series of youth camps which were organised for 60 youth per session at the various Youth Centre locations in Sungai Petani, Alor Setar and Pendang. Kedah FPA had deemed that it was a good strategy to train a large group of young people and from there identify the core group of potential para counsellors.

Therefore, further intensive training on counselling and skills building for a selected group of 50 young people (5 – 10 youth from each centre) to be specifically trained as para counsellors will be undertaken in October 2003 after the school examinations. The participants will be continue as the youth groups, involved in the implementation of the activities held at the Youth centres.

Further to that, the FPA has also successfully conducted seminars with parents at the Youth Centres in Alor Setar, Sungai Petani and Pendang. A total of 160 people were reached through these activities. However, additional seminars will be conducted which will take place in the month of September 2003 for parents at the other Youth centres namely in Kangar and the two schools. The response from the parents were encouraging and the seminars had also made them more aware of issues related to adolescent sexual and reproductive health and the availability of services for young people at the Youth Centres.

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