How to reduce teenage pregnancies?

Latin American Post spoke with Professor Luís Miguel Bermúdez, who is in the run to win the Global Teaching Prize

How to reduce teenage pregnancies?

Professor Luís Miguel Bermúdez rose to fame in Colombia after being recognized in 2017 for eradicating teenage pregnancies at the school where he taught. The Bogota teacher managed to go from 70 to 0 pregnancies among students.

As explained to Latin Amerinca Post, Bermudez found 3 important points in reducing teenage pregnancy:

"The first thing we did was to make the subject of sexual education permanent. Usually, in schools, sexuality was taught through workshops and conferences during the year, but that did not generate change. We, as an institution, manage to convert sexuality into a compulsory subject within the students' curriculum, which allows us to be monitoring and guiding the students week after week ".

Second, focus all sexual activity within the area of sexual and reproductive human rights. The third tool was to unite Bogota's Health Department and schools.

For Bermúdez "it is fundamental that a sexuality project wants to impact figures through working with the national health department, not as it was done before where health and education worked independently [...] the EPS' put a lot of obstacles so that adolescents couldn't access important tools to adecuately assess their sexuality". 

According to the professor, the curriculum designed at his school (Gerardo Paredes in Bogotá) can be applied in any other school, "but the success of the application of the curriculum depends on the teacher, [he or she must] focus on mixing knowledge, entertainment, and new technologies."

The Colombian teach also spoke about the main obstacle being talking about sex. According to Bermúdez, the "Hispanic-Catholic" culture, in Colombia, and in several parts of Latin America, believes that adolecents can not have sexual relations and more so if you are a women. In families, protecting a woman's virginity is very important, but it is done in a restrictive manner leaving them without the posibility of experimenting their sexuality. Due to this, they distance themselves from sexual information and from adequate contraceptive methods because they fear said substances might "damage their reputation by making them seem promiscous". 

Bermúdez is aware that these macho-like behaviors are the source of the problem since it also doesn't allow for the problem to be rooted out. Meanwhile, the girls are uninformed and this leaves them facing the risks of pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases.

Within the same macho environment, male children are taught to have relationships to demonstrate their virility, they are "required" to have girlfriends, and to lose their virginity at an early age. In addition, they are told to have unprotected relationships because "it inhibits your masculine pleasure". 

Already the national government and local entities have begun to set up a sex education plan in conjunction with health entities to launch the project of Professor Bermúdez. Similarly, Luís Miguel Bermúdez assures that non-governmental organizations from Chile, Mexico, and Peru have also contacted him in order to carry out this methodology in their respective countries. 

The teacher advises to start training medical professionals in how they should approach these scenerios so that when a girl seeks medical help in order to obtain contraceptives, doctors should "avoid acting like a parent and tell them that thet are too young to have sex. They want to become the guardians of morals and deny basic services". 

Bermúdez is now in Dubai in the Global Teaching Prize, considered the Nobel Prize for Education. The winner of this award receives USD $1 million to support his educational projects. Of the 10 finalists, of more than 30,000 nominees, there are 2 Latinos: Bermúdez and Diego Mahfouz Faria Lima, who "empowered the community of the Darcy Ribeiro Municipal school in Sao Paulo, to transform the school culture and the reputation of the school". The winner will be announced next Sunday, March 18th.


Latin American Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández

Translated from " ¿Cómo reducir los embarazos en adolescentes? "

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