Draft manual on Healthy Relationships field tested

27 October 2017
Pilot training in Dili, Timor-Leste
Pilot training in Dili, Timor-Leste

Draft manual on Healthy Relationships field tested

Timor-Leste: Timor-Leste is one of the most youthful countries in the world, with three out of five  Timorese below the age of 25. Nearly one in five 19 year olds has given birth or is pregnant with their first child.. However, less than 5% of 15-19 years old have correct information on the fertile period during ovulatory cycle. Given this, UNFPA, partnered up with Sharis Haburas Comunidade (SHC), a local NGO focusing on youth issues, and drafted a manual on healthy relationship on behalf of the State Secretariat of Youth and Sports (SSYS). The manual follows international guidance and best practices on Comprehensive Sexuality Education across the world, at the same time tailors to Timor-Leste’s demands and respects the country’s traditional cultures.

In August-September, the manual was tested in Dili and Manufahi (a municipality of the country) via training of youth aged between 15-24. It addressed transferring knowledge on sexual and reproductive health, building the skills needed to negotiate healthy relationships and fostering positive attitudes. It is designed in a way to allow girls and boys ask questions on myths of sexual and reproductive health; dividing them into groups for role-play and discussion, challenging the traditional norms and values.

Participant filling in a knowledge test on sexual and reproductive health 

Throughout the training, the participants raised a lot of questions, showed their lack of knowledge about how their own body works, and confused about some myths commonly going around that scare them. Tradition norms and attitudes such as, women’s inferior position in a relationship and blaming the females when sexual relationship happens were featured and challenged. Boys were encouraged and guided into understanding relationships and social interactions form girls’ perspectives, and vice versa.

At the end of the training, the youth were asked about their dreams; while at the time they drafted a list of things that they have to do in a healthy relationship to achieve their dream. Participants were inspired to look for new options in life and take decisions for themselves.

Drawing presentation by the participant

“We are very eager to make changes to our life and to share what we learnt with my friends”, said by one of the participant. They also showed their appreciation to the trainer on guiding them how to make better decision for themselves. “Another participant said” I felt I learnt something new, before the training, I didn’t know about topics such as reproductive health and menstruation cycle. It is comfortable for me to learn these topics”.  She also suggested that the manual should include more illustrations as sometimes she felt confused with some technique terms.

Currently, the draft manual is under evaluation and improvement. After that, the manual will be published; youth centers, youth organizations and other interested institutions can use the manual to organize training for the youth in Timor-Leste.


-Chang Tsz Yu Patty