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The first National Consultation Workshop on Adolescent Reproductive Health was held in the Ministry of Education, Dili from February 23rd until 25th, 2012. Over 60 participants from several districts gathered to discuss how to design and implement a new curriculum on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) in both pre-secondary and secondary schools. Representatives from the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health, UNFPA, teachers, religious groups, and students were present to collaborate on the new proposals.

In his opening address at the workshop, Mr. Paulo Bonifacio Soares, Head of the Department of School Health Program reaffirmed the government's commitment to implement ASRH programmes in schools so that all adolescents and young people in Timor-Leste are aware of their sexual and reproductive health and rights, so that they will be empowered future to make informed choices and decisions in the future. Mr. Boni stressed the importance of talking to young people during this consultation process and about the need to raise awareness among adolescents of their reproductive health and rights in order to improve the health of the general population.

Timor-Leste presents a unique case for implementing this programme because it is a young country with a very young population. Over 43 % of the population is under the age of 16. Timor-Leste also has one of the highest fertility rates in the world. Some of the factors which contribute to this are early marriage, poverty, gender discrimination, lack of information and education and the inability to negotiate contraceptive use.  It is hoped that the implementation of the new curriculum will help tackle some of these issues long term by providing information and education on human development and reproductive health. This will contribute to the promotion of positive and responsible attitudes and behaviors towards reproductive health which will lead to the empowerment of the youth to make informed choices and decisions.

As a result of this workshop, a curriculum module on adolescent sexual and reproductive health is currently being developed and translated into Tetun.  The Training of Trainers for teachers and peer educators is being planned in May this year.   The ARH curriculum will be integrated in the pre secondary and secondary curriculum and will be rolled out in 10 pilot schools in Dili region this year.

UNFPA supported the National Consultation Workshop and continues to work with the government of Timor-Leste and local partners on reproductive health and gender equality. UNFPA's vision is to deliver a world where every pregnancy is wanted, every child birth is safe, and every young person's potential is fulfilled.