Adolescent awareness

Adolescent education is aimed at helping children come to terms with physiological and mental changes

Adolescent awareness

Persons between the age group of 10-19 years are called adolescents. This is a turbulent period in which they undergo a shift from childhood to adulthood. It is a period of rapid physical, psychological and social maturation.

They need to get accurate information on these changes, which somehow, the schools do not provide adequately. To fill this need, “Adolescent Education Programme” has been launched by the National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT), along with United Nations Population Fund.

The core content of the programme is about the issues regarding the process of growing up. Physical and psychological changes due to hormonal changes put an adolescent into a situation where he or she needs to know about the changes in the body.

Where parents may not be able to give accurate information, this can be effectively carried out by schools. Information regarding major bodily changes has to be provided so that they are comfortable with the changes and will not entertain doubts and undue fears. Also, there could be individual differences in reaching these adolescent milestones.

Other issues such as body image consciousness, romantic feelings and infatuation have to be carefully dealt with. Parents note the sudden interest shown by adolescents in their body image. They would be often surprised over the increased time the children spend in front of a mirror, grooming themselves. Teachers trained in addressing these issues will be implementing the programme with the cooperation of other staff.

The Adolescent Education Programme envisages a coordinated approach, integrating it with school curriculum. Accurate scientific information is provided in a professional manner.

That the programme doesn’t adopt a confrontationist approach are disputing the beliefs held by the stakeholders. But without subscribing to the myths and stereotypes associated with topics related to adolescence, students are made aware of the issues through unconventional, but effective modes of delivery.

Some of the issues are integrated in school subjects, especially science. The bodily changes, hormone secretions and their effects are discussed in science classes. However, all the topics cannot be covered through this mode. There are other effective tools through which the goal is achieved.

nQuestion box: Students may feel shy to approach teachers with their concerns. Question box is an ideal tool to collect queries of students. The box may be placed in a prominent place in the school building and students may be informed of its utility. The box may be opened periodically and answers provided suitably

Some of the questions may be of individual interest, whereas others could be of common interest to the group.

nGroup discussion: A topic like ‘peer-pressure’ can be taken up for discussion by a small group. There can be a moderator, a recorder and others as participants. Several viewpoints can be presented and conclusions drawn. Active participation of the members makes the exercise lively.

nRole play/skit: Dramatisation has a greater impact on learning. They can be presented in morning assemblies or on some special occasions. Students enjoy the exercise as it involves their exhibition of talents. In addition to conveying a message to the audience, the participants will also have incidental learning to develop their personality.

nCase study: Whole class can be involved in taking up a case study. A small situation is provided and different groups can deliberate on different aspects/questions regarding the situation. The group leaders can present their views to the rest of the class. They can also face questions and explain the stand taken by the members of the group.

nPainting/poster making: This is a creative activity and brings in variety to the programme. On topics related to adolescence education, students can prepare paintings or posters. There can also be an exhibition of the same with students explaining their ideas. Colours, text, and visuals bring out the idea effectively. As it is rightly said, a single picture is equal to thousand words.

nEssay competition: Students can put to exercise their writing abilities on given topics. Everybody has their own way of presentation of ideas and writing an essay provides an opportunity to the students to express themselves. They collect ideas, organise them and present them in a suitable language. Good essays may be read out to the benefit of the rest of the class.

nQuiz: This is one activity which the students enjoy to a great extent. As there is an element of competition, there is a healthy rivalry to outdo each other. It is a very satisfying feeling to give a correct answer before others can come up with it. The quiz can cover a specific topic or a combination of several topics.

Lastly, NCERT has launched a dedicated website for adolescence education  ‘www.aeparc.org’, which is a comprehensive and a complete source of information related to adolescence education.

It has links for resources, discussion forums and frequently asked questions. Students can access the website and get their doubts clarified by experts.

It also lists out resource persons across the country who can also be contacted.

A final word of caution will be in order: ‘Adolescence education should not be confused with sex education.’

(The author is retired assistant commissioner, Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan)

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