LIFE SKILLS APPROACH
Family, social, religious and ethical values are undergoing a rapid transition in the present time of technical revolution and modernization. Under such circumstances, educational excellence alone may not be sufficient to secure the future of our country. Such a narrow focus ignores poor health status as a major threat to the nations socio economic development. Alcohol, tobacco, drug abuse, low levels of physical fitness, poor nutrition, injuries and stress contribute to lowered health status and result in loss of work or school time.
Life skills education in schools is an important means to promote Psychosocial Competence in young individuals. Promotional Strategies using Life Skills Approach for Adolescents are truly investments for a healthy nation. Recognizing this fact and its impact, World Health Organization had initiated Life Skills Education a decade ago. The WHO-South East Asian Regional Office, New Delhi has provided impetus for the development of various promotional programs for adolescents in its member countries using skills development as an approach.
I am happy to note that a Program and Modules for Health Promotion using Life Skills Approach for Adolescents in Schools have been developed by NIMHANS Life Skills Education Group. The program is comprehensive in the areas addressed. It is realistic since it envisages teachers to disseminate these skills to adolescents in schools and is also pragmatic and relevant in the context of a developing country like India where mental health manpower is limited. Implementation of this program has tremendous potential to empower the youth to cope with the challenges of the changing world.
A collaborative approach is needed by the Departments of Health, Education, Human Resources Development and Social Welfare to initiate such programs for youth in or out of school and empower them to become socially responsible citizens.
Dr. M. Gourie-Devi
Professor of Neurology
NIMHANS, Bangalore, India
ADOLESCENTS USING LIFE SKILLS APPROACH
ADOLESCENCE IN TODAYS CONTEXT
You are teaching adolescents (10 - 19 years) who are the citizens of tomorrow. Behavioral patterns followed by a person during adolescence will last a lifetime. They will influence the health and well-being of the individual. Worldwide, in the 21st century, life is undergoing significant changes.Among the most affected are the adolescents.
The health of adolescents is strongly linked to their development. Their physical, psychological and social abilities will decide what they do, how they act and with whom they associate. Technological advances have made the world a global village. Technology has also made education and training necessary. This in turn has made the adolescents depend on their parents economically for a longer period, more than in the earlier agricultural era. At the same time, today adolescents are exposed to more information and cultural alternatives than in earlier periods. This provides the adolescent with culturally diverse choices, which cannot be easily exercised due to economic dependence. Ironically, the adolescent has to prepare for a global life of competition, comparison and independent functioning in a dependent environment.
Rapidly changing social, moral, ethical and religious values have ushered in certain Life Styles in the present society especially among the youth/adolescents. These affect their health significantly. Some of the health problems and behaviors prevalent among the adolescents are poor eating habits, poor oral hygiene, lack of rest, need for quick results, pleasure seeking behavior and stress. The Unholy Triad sums up these - Substance Abuse, Violence and Early Sexual Experimentation.
Certain in-built buffers of the society (both as support and control) are no longer available to the todays adolescents as a norm. They are:
Extended family system.
A smaller community, which is personal and closed - example being in a village or religious community. Uniform culture - in the smaller circle of living. Traditional ways of thinking and behavior with very little individual need to exercise choices.
For the above - mentioned reasons, the stress faced by the adolescents in the current situation is enormous. This is reflected by growing suicide rates and rising crime among young persons.
There is an urgent need to provide todays youth with a set of ways and skills to deal with the demands and challenges of life. Since the Individual rather than the System is recognized as the basic unit of the society, it is essential and a must to help the adolescent to develop skills to handle a wide variety of choices, challenges and stressors in his/ her life and work towards better health.
The values of a stable society and the family have to be replaced with the skills of the individual that would enable him/her to be stable amidst rapid transition in the environment. It is our responsibility to incorporate scientific methods to help the adolescent to develop the required
skills. Life Skill Education is such a method.
CHALLENGES TO ADOLESCENT HEALTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Young People in the World Today
There are more than 1 ½ billion young people between the ages of 10 and 24 years. 85% of them live in developing countries like India.
- In the least developed countries, only 13% of the girls and 22% of the boys enroll for secondary education.
- 8 out of 10 unemployed are young people in developing countries.
- 73 million of the adolescents are working worldwide, mainly in developing countries.
- Throughout the world many millions of adolescents live and work on the street, putting themselves at high risk.
- Between 1970 and 2025 the urban population in developing countries will grow by 600%.
Nutrition and Non-Communicable Diseases
- Under and over nutrition in young people are increasing problems in both developing and developed countries.
- Adolescent girls are often the last to be given food at home, even when pregnancy increases their needs.
- Adolescent iron needs, increased by growth, development and menstruation are being hampered by malaria, hookworm and schistomiasis, which affect the young disproportionately.
Reproductive Health and Sexuality
- For the vast majority, sexual relations begin in adolescence, inside or outside of marriage.
- Unprotected sexual relations increase the risks of unwanted pregnancy, early childbirth, unsafe abortion and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) including HIV resulting in AIDS.
- Lack of knowledge, skills and access to contraception and vulnerability to sexual abuse put adolescents at the highest risk of unwanted pregnancies.
- In developing countries, maternal mortality in girls under 18 is 2 to 5 times higher than in women from 18 to 25.
- Worldwide, more than 10% of the births are in adolescent women.
- Adolescent abortions are estimated as between 1 to 14 million per year, most of which are unsafe because they are performed illegally and under hazardous circumstances by unskilled practitioners.
- Each year more than 1 out of 20 adolescents contract a curable STD, not including viral infections.
- Of the estimated 333 million of new STDs that occur in the world every year, at least 11.1 million occur in young people under 25.
- Globally, more than half of the new HIV infections are among 15 - 24 years old.
- If tobacco use begins at all, it usually begins in adolescence. Few people begin after 18 years.
- Half of regular smokers who start in adolescence and smoke all their lives, will eventually be killed by the tobacco.
- Alcohol is the most common element in substance related deaths of young people.
- Illicit drugs use is becoming more widespread and shifting to riskier patterns of use.
- Harmful substance use will increase cancers, cardiovascular diseases and respiratory illness in later life.
Unintentional and Intentional Injury
- Unintentional injury is the leading cause of death among young people, especially traffic accidents in the young.
- Suicide in young people is increasing and is an important cause of death especially of adolescent males.
- Interpersonal violence is increasing among young people. Young girls are often the victims. (Coming of Age - From Facts to Action for Adolescent Sexual & Reproductive Health - WHO/FRH/ADH/97.18)
Please refer to attached file for CBSE Class 9 Activity Manual Guide for Teachers