Make Period Education Mandatory in Schools
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Periods are involuntary and unavoidable, and they are also very complex. COSMO wants to help equip our youth and help create an "open" environment for kids to learn what is and isn't normal about menstruation. Periods being taught in school, to boys as well as girls as well as implementing education around menstrual health and the menstrual cycle starting in primary school is a step towards that – but, we need your help.
Last year, we conducted our very-first COSMO Period Survey to find out what our audience thought about periods and menstruation. The results? Shocking. 90% of our participants said that they felt there was not enough education in schools around feminine healthcare and menstruation. It's clear there is a definite late of substantial menstruation education in schools. What can we do about it? We'll tell ya.
We've partnered with Stayfree and their #StayfreeToLearn Schools programme - an initiative that has reached almost 1 million girls South Africa, discussing puberty and menstrual hygiene. Their educators visit schools, use flip carts and other visual aids to explain the wonder and normalcy of menstruation and then open honest discussion on the topic. This helps girls to understand that what they are experiencing is both natural and normal, helps them to grow their self-confidence and feel comfortable and make their move to achieve both physical and academic goals.
Hold up, isn't it being taught in Life Orientation?
Yes, it is. But the subject is only assigned to a certain amount of hours and a certain age group. In 1997, Outcomes Based Education was introduced into the South African school system. Along with that came a brand new subject for Grades 7 to 12, Life Orientation. Schools slowly started replacing other schools subjects with, the now compulsory, Life Orientation (LO). Physical education, health, social & environmental responsibilities, constitutional rights, and development of self in society, are the learning areas required by the Department of Education in all Life Orientation programmes.
We applaud the Department of Education's initiative to give each child a holistic education. By allotting time (varies from 1.5 to 2 hours) in the school week to open the dialogue to discuss formerly taboo issues, we are preparing our youth for a much more empowered future. Our teachers are expected to do a lot and we understand that there can often be a big difference between what's on paper and what happens in reality.
As our Period Survey results revealed, there is not enough education surrounding menstruation, therefore our aim is to get involved and ensure that menstruation education is more in-depth and more relevant in schools.
Here's What We're Asking The Government To Do
When you sign the COSMO X Stayfree Menstruation Education petition you will be lobbying the Department of Education to make 3 big changes:
1. Provide education about periods, puberty and sexual health to all school children (not just girls) from as early as 9 years old and/or Grade 5 level. The average age for a first period is closer to 12, with one University of Cincinnati study reporting that about 10 to 15 percent of girls enter puberty at age 7 or younger, a phenomenon known as precocious puberty.
2. Allocate more hours to period education in the LO curriculum and provide more relevant information (including sanitary hygiene options, how to manage pain, endometriosis, etc.) to current LO educators.
3. Put supportive systems in place for all girls, to make sure not one of them misses school because they don't have sanitary products or proper pain management.
There's power in numbers and we can do this!
The Participants in the #PeriodPower Movement
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