Professional associations and civil society organisations have signed the Declaration “With sexuality education in schools to a healthier and safer youth” demanding from the authorities that sexuality education become part of the curriculum – for the benefit of the young people
15 September, Skopje – Unanimously demanding from the Government of the Republic of North Macedonia and the Ministry of Education and Science to ensure systemic approach to scientifically-based information on sexual and reproductive health to all young people in the country, the relevant professional associations and organisations have signed the Declaration “With sexuality education in schools to a healthier and safer youth”, which was presented today at the namesake national conference organised by HERA – Health Education and Research Association.
Considering the concerning situation with the health and the wellbeing of young people in Macedonia, which is statistically evidenced year after year, but is also confirmed by the experiences of the professional community, introduction and effective implementation of sexuality education as an elective subject in the 9th grade of primary education was supported by the Association of Social Workers of Macedonia, Association of Albanian Medical Doctors of Macedonia, Association of General Practitioners/Family Physicians, Institute of Marriage, Family and Systemic Practice – “Alternative”, Macedonian Association of Gynaecologists and Obstetricians, Macedonian Young Lawyers Association, Macedonian Medical Society – MLD and Professional & Specialist Associations of MLD, Psychological Centre “Alternative”, Federation of Special Educators and Rehabilitators of the Republic of North Macedonia, Centre for Psychosocial and Crisis Action – “Malinska”, Centre for Family Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje, as well as organisations working with young people and marginalised groups: HERA, Coalition “Margins”, Subversive Front and the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights.
“All of us, signatories hereto, as well as the majority of the public, agree that our children and young people need sexuality education so as to be able to develop in healthy and emotionally mature persons. Science in in favour of sexuality education, and the social and health indicators have become alarming since long time ago. Sexuality education has been part of many policies and laws, and the political will for introducing it has become increasingly clear over the last years. What we are missing today is its implementation, and most important of all, which can even be considered a precondition for its successful implementation, is the continuous education of the population and sensibilisation of the local communities and parents so as to be able to tackle the CSE-related disinformation, lies and hate speech – something to which all of us can contribute”, was stated by Mr. Bojan Jovanovski, Executive Director of HERA, in his opening address to the audience, The benefits of sexuality education were also addressed by Mr. Dirk Jan Kop, the Ambassador of the Kingdom of the Netherlands and Mr. Hugo Bechtel, Counsellor for Cooperation and Culture with the Embassy of France and the Director of the French Institute in Skopje, in whose countries sexuality education has already been made part of the curriculum long time ago.
Their address was followed by Prof. Dr. Katarina Stavrić, Coordinator of the Centre for Family Medicine at the Faculty of Medicine in Skopje: “As a health professional, paediatrician, and as a professor at the Faculty of Medicine, which runs the Centre for Family Medicine, we give full support to the Declaration on introducing comprehensive sexuality education, because health is not the mere absence of disease, rather, it covers the full physical, mental and social wellbeing. Our work consists not only in treating diseases, but also in their prevention, which implies promoting healthy habits. And here is where education is crucially important. If we want to have a healthier and safer youth, health education must begin at an early age.”
By signing the Declaration, the professional community has also demanded continuous public awareness raising around the health, emotional and social benefits for the children from receiving comprehensive sexuality education, as well as designing dedicated and inclusive programmes and mechanisms for protecting the children in primary and secondary schools from violence and discrimination.
In this context, Dr. Slavica Gajdazis, Physician in Chief, Director of the Institute of Marriage, Family and Systemic Practice – “Alternative” pointed out: “It is more than clear to all of us that we are talking about young people in the period of adolescence who experience turbulent changes in all areas. These are situations which, quite understandably, may disturb them, and sometimes, even scare them. They ask themselves what is going on, they become curious, they begin to explore. If we fail to equip them with information, they will find it where such information is available, majority of which will be disinformation and misconceptions, as is most of the contents we can read nowadays about sexuality education. Sexuality and intimacy have always been difficult topics to discuss; however, such matters are an inseparable part of us. If we want the young people to grow into secure and stable persons, our support and understanding are crucial, but also their timely access to scientifically verified information that can be found throughout the education process, which is exactly what this Declaration advocates.”
Nataša Pavičević-Stojmenovska, representative of the Association of Social Workers, added that, in addition to the young people, their parents could also rely on sexuality education in taking care for the health of their children. “Let us be reminded that sexuality education has been recognised in the very Law on Prevention from Violence against Women and Domestic Violence. It is a tool that may also contribute to a proper social prevention of violence among young people.”
Their support for integrating the comprehensive sexuality education in the formal education system was also given by representatives of political parties, including Maja Moračanin from DOM, Arbana Pasholli from DUI, Monika Zajkova from LDP and Njomza Shaqiri from the Alliance for Albanians. Recalling the many recommendations given by international bodies to our country, and the many national policies and laws of the Republic of North Macedonia, they agreed that people’s deputies and political parties have the obligation to ensure the timely education about sexual and reproductive health and rights of every young person, which, to say the least, would contribute to challenging the stereotypes and curbing the hatred and discrimination against women and other vulnerable groups of citizens in the country.
The integral text of the declaration is available at the following link.