Young people in Uganda are confronted by many life challenges including balancing the expectations of the traditional, often conservative, norms against the increasing exposure, through the mass media and other mechanisms. Young people’s sexual and reproductive health is one area in which this challenge is often most felt.
Many young people engage in sexual activities with little or no knowledge about how to protect themselves against the risks of infection and unwanted pregnancy. In light of such challenges, addressing their sexual and reproductive health needs is an important and urgent policy and programmatic concern in Uganda
HIV/AIDs has been devastating Uganda since the early 1980s, affecting men and women in the prime of productive lives. In Uganda, young people aged 10-24 are of particular concern as they make up a large proportion of Uganda’s population. Uganda has one of the youngest age structure in the world. Worse still, adolescence is a high-risk phase of life, during which individuals may be faced with changes: physical and emotional. In addition to this young people in Uganda face many challenges such as poor health, low quality education, high rate of HIV and AIDS infections, unemployment and low level of participation in decisions that affect their lives and critical rights among many other challenges such as:
Teenage Pregnancy: The high teenage pregnancy is not only affecting girls’ health, but it is limiting their social economic opportunities to advance to a better life. Uganda has one of the highest teenage pregnancy rates in the world which not only plunges young people into a vicious cycle of poverty, health complications and dropping out of school but also affects the society at large.
School Drop outs: Uganda has the highest school dropout rate in East Africa. Those who drop out of school are unable to benefit from government formal skills development [Business, Technical, Vocational Education and Training) since the lowest level of admission is attainment of primary seven education.
To address the above mentioned challenges ; it is important to empower young people with life changing information that includes growth and development; life skills, reproductive health; education; to mention but a few. Young people in Uganda have various sources of such information; these include youth friendly facilities; several NGOs working with young people; or associations such as clubs in their schools and communities. In addressing such challenges; young people are strongly encouraged to get involved in leading such programs in various capacities in their schools and communities.
About Straight Talk Foundation: Straight Talk Foundation (STF) is a Ugandan communications for development Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) that was registered in 1997 and operates nationally in Uganda. Its activities and interventions aim at improving the sexual reproductive health and wellbeing of young people for adoption of health behaviors in Uganda through advocacy, evidence driven communication and youth friendly service delivery.
STF behavior change communication model is highly effective and it combines a range approaches such as mass media; interpersonal communication (face-to-face, community outreach & mobilization programs). Although STF’s specialty is adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH), the STF model has proven successful in implementation of programs targeting various categories of young people namely, those in school, out of school, married, unmarried, living with HIV, young people with disabilities including adults such as parents and teachers.