Reaching Out-of-School Youth with Reproductive Health and HIV/AIDS Information and Services

Case Studies & Research
Arlington, VA
Family Health International, FHI
35 p.
Periodical title
Youth Issues Paper 4

Youth who do not attend school or who drop out prematurely miss many of the fundamentals of basic education - reading and writing skills, mathematics, and science. But they are also disadvantaged because they lose a valuable opportunity to learn about reproductive health and HIV in a stable and credible environment: the classroom. Such youth are vulnerable to misinformation from unreliable sources or possibly never learn about the issues at all. While some parents fulfill their roles as educators by openly discussing these health concerns with their children, others avoid the topic because of embarrassment or lack of knowledge or skills. In some parts of the world, a growing number of out-of-school youth have lost their parents to AIDS. Worldwide, some 120 million school-aged children are out of school, and slightly more than half of these are girls, according to UNICEF. Fortunately, some of these young people receive health information through innovative programs. One program brings education to rural youth in conjunction with agricultural training. Another uses radio to teach youth about HIV and reproductive health. Still another integrates health information with clinical services for high-risk youth. But most youth are not so fortunate in benefiting from these pilot projects. This Youth Issues Paper examines a topic that is not well represented in the published literature but is clearly relevant to the well-being of young people. The first chapter distinguishes between "mainstream" and "socially marginalized" out-of-school youth, providing a conceptual view for this varied population. The second chapter examines the link between schooling and safer sexual behavior, underscoring the fact that school benefits children beyond literacy and knowledge. The third chapter presents programs that work with out-of-school youth using a framework that identifies key goals and possible actions that programs can take. Following are four case studies, showing how different projects have worked with both mainstream and marginalized out-of-school youth. The last chapter summarizes the key points of the paper.

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