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THE ROLE OF PEER EDUCATION PROGRAMME IN CREATING YOUTH AWARENESS ON SEXUAL MATTERS
1.1 Background to the Study
Adolescence is the time to gain individual identity and emerge sexual excitement along with rapid physical, mental, and emotional changes Dahl RE, Gunnar (2009). Puberty and sex appeal would cause teenagers to be more sensitive toward sexual subjects; therefore, they would try to find answers for their questions. The media, as a one-way informant, has also engaged teenagers’ minds with sexual matters (Refae et al 2007) and stimulates sexual behaviors. On the other hand, the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among young adults could indicate lack of knowledge about risky sexual behaviors among this vulnerable population (Refae et al 2007)
Therefore, due to its importance in enhancing public health and country’s social and economic growth, the necessity of sexual trainings has been proposed and confirmed as an independent subject at the international conference on population and growth in Cairo in 1994 and it has developed ever since throughout Africa (Golbasi and Taskin 2009). Although sexual trainings for teenagers, especially girls, is one of the most important educational matters that could have direct effect on long-term health enhancement and developmental programs, but parents feel ashamed to train sexual matters to their children and do not have appropriate skills for these trainings. Therefore presenting sexual training programs with regard to the context of social values and taking advantage of right opportunities, based on teenagers’ desires, is necessary (Golbasi and Taskin 2009).
Peer education is a method of promoting health- enhancing change amongst the peers in a given community through teaching or sharing health information, values and behaviours to groups that share relatively similar social backgrounds. Peer education typically is supported by community, charities, government and non-government players to drive desired change among peer groups in a given community. Peer education is increasingly being recognized as a fruitful initiative used for combating problems related to sexual behavior in the world. It has a long history in the life of mankind which dates back as far as Aristotle’s moments of 384 BC – 322 BC. The peer education programmes is conducted in a variety of contexts and in a number of different settings and situations. Joseph Lancaster in the early 1800s, in London sets a very good example by using the system known as “monitorial system” whereby teachers taught monitors who then passed on their knowledge to other children (Wagner, 1982).
In the 1960s, peer education-related projects were developed to assist disadvantaged young people in their studies (Prevention research evaluation report, 2006). Moreover, peer education has also been used in health projects aimed at seeking to reduce the incidence of smoking among young people in London (Morgan and Eiser, 1990). The same initiative was used in the field of substance misuse in London (Klee and Reid, 1995) so as to help young people who were using Amphetamine and other illegal drugs to stop.
African experience shows that during pre-colonial era and even after independence, there were social structures that were involved in the initiation of youths. Such structures played an important role in preparing adolescents to adulthood. For boys the initiation was at 10 years. In other African countries initiation process for boys takes place at the ages of 12-13 years and this varies according to cultural settings of different communities (Swantz, 1966). Znaniecki (1993) argued that during this process adolescents were taught matters related to socio-economic activities that they were expected to play in their respective communities including useful herbal plants to treat diseases. Sexuality and reproductive health education was provided by different groups of elders. For instance, elderly women educated girls and elderly men educated boys. Today Peer education has become popular in Africa following the spread of HIV/AIDS epidemic. The pandemic has and continues to affect a lot of people youths being the most affected group. Hence, it is used as a means to mitigate the problem. For example, in Zambia peer education activities were multi-various and \ included drama, music, role plays, games and sports. These forms of peer education were used because they had greater impact in all centric cultures (Aeth, 1998).
The major purpose of the programme was to help the hard to reach population particularly youth outside the school settings who are affected with risk sexual behavior problems such as use of illegal drugs, sexual abuse, teenage pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and engaging into sexual intercourse at early age. The programme was adopted in order to promote health to peer through peer-to-peer method. The programme was also adopted in order to help youths manage their sexual behavior. Therefore the aim of this research is to find out the role of peer education programme in creating youth awareness on sexual matters.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
HIV risk behavior among young people is often influenced by interpersonal processes such as peer group norms, perceived gender roles resulting in coercive male dominated sexual relationships, lack of communication skills to negotiate condom use, their understanding of love, sex and relationships and a lack of positive adult role models. On a broader level, a lack of recreational facilities and social norms such as intergenerational silence about sexual behavior, the status of women and socio-economic environment also play a role.
It is even becoming worse due to the fact thatt more than 340 million new cases of curable STIs occur annually worldwide with most infected persons being between the ages of 15 and 49 as reported by World Health Organization (2007). Diseases such as HIV are among the top burdens for many countries. Nowadays in many countries, peer education is emerging as an educational intervention agent used to encourage healthy sexual behavior among the population, particularly youths. The constructive role of peer education to many groups in the society including youths is of paramount importance, because it is a productive initiative towards the battle against negative sexual behavior that creates most negative implications to the society. Despite the adoption of peer education by the government there is an increase rate in the no of STD infection among the youth in Nigeria, all this however prompt the researcher to embark on the research of the role of peer education programme in creating youth awareness on sexual matters in Nigeria, using Oshodi/Isolo LGA in Lagos state.
1.3 Objective of the Study
The main objective of this study is to find out the role of peer education programme in creating youth awareness on sexual matters, specifically the study intends to;
1.4 Research Question
1.5 Research Hypothesis
Ho: there is no effects of peer education on the awareness of Isolo High School senior secondary school students
Hi: there is effects of peer education on the awareness of Isolo High School senior secondary school students
1.6 Significance of the Study
This study is very significant due to the following reasons:
The findings will act as a powerful weapon to youths in the fight against diseases such as HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) like Gonorrhea. The findings will enlighten peer educators about the strengths and weaknesses of the programme and how to improve it.
The study proposes alternative strategies that can be used to improve the programme and hence awareness on sexual health conditions of many youths. As a result, a number of cases related to sexual behavior problems are likely to fall drastically as many youths will have known the best ways to manage their sexual behavior using peer education.
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