Issues for the future of Population Education Programmes

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As conceived by UNFPA the principal issues for the future of population education in the formal sector vary considerably among countries and regions but deal essentially with the same kinds of various concerns.

That is, there are issues related to continued awareness creation and sensitization, co-ordination with other groups and sectors, teacher training, contents of population education, materials preparation and distribution, evaluation and research and institutionalization.

Perhaps, the most challenging and pressing issue is the need to review and revise the conceptualization and contents of population education. The only important effort so far made to provide a global conceptualization of population education, dates back to a 1978 study conducted by UNESCO.

Many current projects are still largely based on approaches-defined in this study which are gradually becoming outmoded. During 1980, several important development and redefinitions have taken place in population education.

For example, the relationships between population education and such fields as sex education, family life education, and environmental education are more clearly understood.

Also, the objectives of population education, including those concerning fertility, mortality, and migration have become more precise, and new content areas have been incorporated into programmes, including responsible parenthood, family planning, self-esteem adolescent fertility, AIDS prevention and others.

Similarly, learning experiences have been designed to eliminate stereotypes contribution to discrimination based on gender, and curriculum designs initially considered difficult to implement are now being adopted.

Once they are consolidated and circulated, all these developments, occurring at different places in different parts of the world, will undoubtedly be a great value in the planning of new activities and improving ongoing programs worldwide. The concept of quality of life, the core theme of population education relates to other aspects as figured below.

As issue closely related to conceptualization is that of how to update the content of population education, particularly in terms of addressing difficult or controversial issues such as human sexuality; adolescent pregnancy; which is often accompanied by illegal abortion; and gender roles, rights, and responsibilities.

Of these, perhaps the issue of adolescent pregnancy is of greatest concern since it is emerging as an issue in a number of countries that have not previously identified it as a problem and, therefore, have limited experience in developing educational approaches to deal with it.

This is a particularly complex problem in Asia, where there are many cultural differences between countries, requiring research and differences between countries, requiring research and different approaches in each case.

Among the most important new population education content is that dealing with gender-role .stereotypes and responsibilities.

A few countries have started to address the need to develop adequate approaches, concepts, and materials on gender roles and issues. UNESCO is doing pioneering work in this area in Latin America.

Development of population education content on gender roles will obviously be of significant benefit, to other fields now also starting to address the issue of how to best sensitize and train staff to incorporate gender issues into development activities. Finally, the question of what content and concepts school systems can afford to insert in crowded curricula needs to be carefully examined.

Materials have been developed in many countries, but they do not always find their way into textbooks or other permanent or required reading materials.

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