“The World Starts With Me” is the title of the first chapter of a series of interactive modules developed by the World Population Foundation, which aims to teach Indonesian adolescents about sexual and reproductive health.
The WPF has been looking into the issue locally since 1997, in response to research that showed there was a high degree of reproductive health problems and gender-based violence in the country. The Dutch nongovernmental organization aims to provide Indonesian teenagers with balanced information about sexuality, reproductive health and gender issues.
One of the WPF’s most recent projects is the creation of interactive computer programs. One such program is called “My Exciting Teenage World,” or “Daku,” in which students are made aware of topics related to reproductive health through learning modules like “Is Your Body Changing Too?,” “Fight for Your Rights,” “Love Shouldn’t Hurt” and “Pregnancy: Notes for Boys and Girls.” Each module is introduced by virtual hosts. The program also makes use of quizzes and other activities.
The Candle of Knowledge Foundation (YPI), a local organization supported by the WPF, has been promoting the “Daku” program since 2005. With the WPF’s assistance, YPI has trained around 50 teachers from 24 senior high schools throughout Jakarta.
“We personally approached 50 high schools in Jakarta to talk about the program, which is made available for free, but only 24 agreed to adopt the program,” said Sari Hapsari, the program manager for YPI.
Titi Yuli Munaf, a guidance counselor from SMK Negeri 16, a vocational school in Central Jakarta, said she read about the program two years ago and convinced the school’s principal to adopt it.
“The program is exactly what the students need, especially those in their final year in school,” Titi said.
However, because the school has a limited number of computers, only 40 students were able to follow the interactive computer programs provided by the WPF. The other students were given lessons using a printed 16-chapter module.
In 2007, the WPF introduced similar interactive sex education programs for students with disabilities. One of the programs, “Reproductive Health Media for Deaf Youth” (“Maju”), is now being used in three schools that specialize in teaching the hearing impaired.
Siti Rahayu, the principal of Santi Rama school for the hearing impaired in Cipete, South Jakarta, said that she was skeptical of the WPF program at first.
“I wondered if they knew what they were talking about,” she said. “But when we started working together and preparing the modules, I began to think that the subject matter was good for our students.”
Nanik Sri Wahyuni, a reproductive health coordinator at Taman Harapan vocational school for the blind in Keramat Jati, East Jakarta, said the program fit the needs of the students because they were involved in shaping it, along with reproductive health experts and school officials.
“We prepared the material together with the WPF,” Nanik said. “To make the program more suitable for students, the project was developed with the help of students themselves. In fact, two students from our school participated in preparing the program.”
In discussions with students, Nanik discovered that a number of students at the school between the ages of 14 and 18 were sexually active.
“I found it unbelievable that they were already sexually active at that age,” Nanik said. “But now, I hope things begin to change because the students are better informed about sexuality. Sometimes when they go out on a date, their friends remind them, ‘Hey, don’t forget chapter seven,’ which talks about love and sexuality.”
In addition to school-oriented projects, the WPF also introduced “Seru,” or “My Source of Information on Adolescence,” a sex education computer program designed for boys in juvenile correctional institutions and already being used in Tangerang, Medan and Blitar. The foundation also developed the “Me and You” program, a social skills course for preschoolers, which focuses on gender roles and the prevention of sexual abuse.
The WPF programs are now being run in 12 provinces — including West Nusa Tenggara, North Sumatra, East Kalimantan, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Central Java, East Java and Bali — but the foundation hopes to expand its reach nationwide in the future.