Objective="Empower adolescents to make better life choices for overall development including sexual and reproductive health and rights."
Details for Reform Option "Jigyasa: Adolescent Centre, Madhya Pradesh"
Small Family by Choice, a 10-year project implemented in 4 districts of Madhya Pradesh, gave Family Planning Association India (FPAI) many insights into the myths and misconceptions among youth regarding sexual and reproductive health, both in rural and urban areas. While working with them FPAI learnt that adolescents need a platform where they can discuss their reproductive health needs and also enhance their skills so as to find new avenues of employment.
The idea to start a resource centre for adolescents was proposed by youth group in Bhopal district. It was after a wide range of consultations with representatives of youth groups, teachers, parents, project volunteers and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the FPAI established an adolescent resource centre in Bhopal in 2002 .It was called Jigyasa Adolescent Centre (JAC) and was run by young people for young people. Currently, FPAI runs a JAC in Bhopal and three satellite centres in Mandideep Industrial area and Harrakheda Rural area, on the outskirts of Bhopal, and Vidisha.
The JAC is managed by a programme coordinator, male and female adolescent advocacy officer-cum-counsellor. A youth committee has been constituted to oversee functioning of the centre; this committee meets once a month to review the activities of the JAC and plan for the future. An advisory panel has been set up by FPAI.
The resource centre caters to adolescents and youth from vulnerable sections of society; these include school-goers, college students, school drop-outs, children working in roadside eateries, rag pickers, platform children, juvenile delinquents, street children and adolescents from urban slums.
Information about the JAC was disseminated by placing advertisements in the local newspaper and in film theatres. Different stakeholders, including school authorities and state policy makers also spoke about it at various forums. Parent orientation programmes and youth melas were organised to create awareness about the adolescents’ reproductive and sexual health needs and rights. The youth fairs included quiz, health camps, competition, puppet shows, entertainment and educational programmes. Street plays were shown to highlight issues concerning sexual and reproductive health and age at marriage.
JAC provides information, entertainment facilities, counseling, clinical services, internet, library and referral services for adolescents, who need specialised treatment. There is a weekly clinic at JAC every Wednesday, where any adolescent can get consultation for INR 20). JAC also offers help and guidance on reproductive health, nutrition and growth, HIV prevention, teenage pregnancy and abortions, myths and misconceptions related to sexual health, sexual violence and other related subject areas. The JAC conducts short skill development courses in computer use, personality development, dance, cooking, tailoring, karate, making handmade jute products, spoken English, acting, henna application, and painting for a monthly fee of INR 50. JAC organised workshops to disseminate information on reproductive and sexual health among young girls ready to get married. Acting classes were organised so that interested youth could form a theatre group and enact street plays and also earn their livelihood.
The JAC charges membership fees of INR. 10. The centre sustains itself through consultation fees, donations and by selling advocacy material. The resource centre has become a platform for students specialising in social work to have hands-on training on adolescent reproductive and sexual health programmes.
An interactive website, www.jigyasa.org has also been launched, from where young people can access information.
The JAC has trained 125 young boys and girls from over 100 slums as peer educators. In addition, records show that it has trained 12,223 school teachers on issues of human sexuality; 5,495 adolescents on gender issues; 6147 rural and urban adolescents have been enabled with modern and traditional skills; improved information needs of 249792 on sexual and reproductive health. Besides, the adolescent clinic has been able to address reproductive and health problems of the youth.
The initiative involving adolescents has also led to the empowerment of youth. In Vidisha district, young people from the villages, who participated in activities organised by FPAI’s skills development centre, approached the panchayat for a spare room, which they could use as a library. They could also impress the collector, who provided funds to make basic purchases.
The street theatre group, formed by JAC adolescents, puts up plays on social issues for FPAI and other NGOs. This helps them to earn a livelihood.
INR 4, 50, 000.
Mandideep Industrial area, Bhopal, Harrakheda Rural area of Bhopal district and in Vidisha district.
6 to 12 months.
Conducive environment: Peer educators, who are themselves young people, disseminated information on sexual and reproductive health (SRH). This drew young people to take part in JAC activities.
Clinics: Adolescent clinics attached to JACs increased access to and utilisation of SRH services by young people.
Overall development: Increased level of confidence among adolescents visiting Jigyasa.
Self-reliant: The trainings and skill development courses have helped many to earn a living.
Attendance: Ensuring adolescents come to the centre regularly. The JAC activities and services have to be relevant and be easy to access by the young people from vulnerable sections of society, who are often hesitant. In addition, more visibility is required and this requires JACs to work with various stakeholders including parents of the adolescents and youth.
Retention: There is continuous drop-out of adolescents for various reasons.
A felt need for such a resource centre.
NGO interested in promoting them.
PRI and corporate support.
Who needs to be consulted
Depends on support from government community and other funding agencies. Resource mobilisation initiatives by the resource centre may also help sustain its activities.
Chances of Replication
Good. The government in the second phase of Reproductive and Child Health programme has replicated the initiative. Please refer to the National Youth Policy.
FPA India partnered with international agencies like UNICEF, UNFPA, CARE, DANIDA, Johnson & Johnson, SOS and local NGOs like Aarambh, Prerna, CASP Plan, Abhivyakti, Bachpan, Sudhar, MPVHA, professional agencies, schools, colleges and government departments like Central Jail, Social Welfare Department, Mahila Thana, Women & Child Development Department and Academy of Administration, etc.
Dr. Nandini Roy, Research Consultant, National Institute of Medical Statistics, June 2006.