Role of life skill education in the context of HIV/ AIDS and sexual health education

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Following life skills have been promoted in the context of HIV/AIDS and sexual health education :

(i) Decision-making

Decision-making can be defined as the ability of a person to be able to decide what he/she wants in life. This skill enables the individual to gather information about issues and decide for him/her self what is right for him/her as he/she will be able to evaluate The future consequences of his/her own action. This skill helps the individual to find out alternate solution of several related problems.

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(ii) Negotiation

Negotiation can be defined as the ability of a person to assert his/her position in an uncomfortable situation and be able to refuse what he/she deems wrong. This skill will thus enable the individual to negotiate with him/her self that what he/she is doing is good or bad? Negotiation can also be understood more in terms of analysing what one want and how one aims at achieving it.

(iii) Empathy

Empathy is the ability to listen to another’s needs and understand the circumstances and expressing that understanding for the benefit of others. This skill will help reduce the animosity that exists among different individuals and increase respect for one another.

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(iv) Critical thinking

Critical thinking allows an individual to evaluate and evaluate events and situations that takes place and influences that affect his/her thoughts and actions. The individual is also able to analyse the information received and the authenticity of it for him/her self. In schools, sex education is demanded by the principals for the senior classes as they are entering the adolescent stage.

(v) Advocacy

Advocacy is the ability to influence others for the benefit of the general masses and also persuade people to take up good causes to promote harmony. This skill will also enable the individual to network with organisations and government bodies and motivate them to take up issues that are genuine and for common good.

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(vi) Interpersonal Communication

Interpersonal communication will enhance the verbal and non-verbal communication skill of the individual whereby furthering his/her ability to listen to others as well as to express his/her feelings.

This skill will also lead to a more face-to-face interaction between individuals. One acquires communication skills from birth. However, due to variations in personality traits, much of the skills are to be developed in which people will have to put in extra effort.

In disseminating information regarding HIV and AIDS, communication is the medium.

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With modern technology, teaching and learning pertaining to various issues can be held even through open and distance learning. However, pasting posters in the classrooms or in the rooms of the children, making them prepare for an exhibition on a particular issue will help them to acquire more information on the issue as enough research would have been done on their own by them.

Across the globe ‘sex’ is a taboo subject to be discussed in any forum. With the advent of HIV and AIDS, it is more important to provide information about sex and sexuality. The teachers, trainers of trainees, NGO’s etc, are requested time and again by the policymakers to teach/spread information about various aspects of sex and sexuality and HIV/AIDS.

Given the present scenario, lots of efforts are no the spread information about sex and sexuality and HIV/AIDS. But there is still lot of resistance among people from various walks of life. As a result new terminologies came up.

National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO), United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) etc., have suggested the promotion of Life Skills Education in which the content matter of sexual health education, family life education are embedded into school curriculum along with issues associated with HIV and AIDS.

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The terminology of life skills education is more palatable and has in recent times gained acceptance from the schools and colleges and even the parents. The objective of having such terminologies is to spread awareness among the people and to educate them for a health and safe life. This is an example to show how skills in communication, using palatable and pleasant terminologies can be effective.

(vii) Coping

Coping is the ability to manage one’s emotions like anger and be able to deal with any less or grief. The individual will be able to cope with the everyday stress of this complex world by bringing in positive energy within him/her self, which will also result in better productivity in the work place. Coping is an essential life skill to manage one’s personal affairs in different situations.

(viii) Self-management skills

Self-management is the ability of a person to be aware about and in turn, manage life according to ones potentials. Individuals tend to be caught in the web of problems most of the time because they are not able to manage themselves.

This skill will enable them to develop a perspective about themselves, thereby leading to awareness about self which will further instill in them the feeling of confidence and raise their level of self esteem. Such a skill will help them to access and monitor their action and thoughts by themselves.

They have to manage on their own in terms of their study, cleanliness, food habits etc. Especially young girls entering puberty have to be extra careful about their hygiene. In the absence of their mothers, they do not get proper information, guidance, etc, about the menstrual cycle and how to deal with it. Nevertheless, they have to manage themselves and, in turn, become responsible citizens of the nation.

(ix) Co-operation and team-work

Co-operation and teamwork is the ability to work in groups and respect each other’s opinion and views. This will also enable the individual to assess his/her own ability and the contribution he/she can make to the group. Without the help and support of different individuals having different ideologies, it may become difficult to involve in a project. Group effort will always yield better results than individual effort.

In order to prevent any epidemic, no single effort is ever successful. Similarly, for the prevention of HIV/AIDS there should be initiative from the people from every walk of life. Only then HIV/AIDS prevention will become successful.

Regarding awareness about sexual health among the young people we also need co-operation of one and all to make the programme reach all the young people. In particular, we need the support and co-operation of schools, parents, religious institutions and leaders etc.

(x) Responsible citizenship

Responsible citizenship skill will enable the individual to participate in the local affairs of the community as well as the nation thereby having his/her share in the promotion of the public good. This skill will make the individual understand how his/her actions affect the self, family as well as nation.

People who are living with HIV/AIDS should lead a healthy lifestyle and protect themselves against any other diseases. They should also be careful in their behaviour to avoid further spread of the infection to people with whom they come into contact with.

Sex determination tests should be avoided and this practice should not be supported as this will only lead to the abortion of the female fetuses (in most cases). As responsible citizens we should accept a child whether it is a male or a female and not go in for abortion. Abortion can complicate the mother’s life as well as lead to the decline in the country’s sex ratio.

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