Profamilia's Online Sexual Education Modules for Schools in Urban Colombia
There are still very few studies on the effectiveness of sexual education programs in transferring knowledge about safe behaviors. More importantly, previous research has highlighted a weak relation between the transferring of knowledge, and real changes on the perception of sexuality and sexual behavior (Kirby, 2006). Maximizing these links, and thus creating an effective sexual education curriculum is of great importance, especially when targeting adolescents. In Colombia, Profamilia's ENDS 2005, (Encuesta Nacional de Demografia y Salud) estimates that 18.5% of the girls between the age of 13-19 are already mothers, are pregnant or have already been pregnant once. Most of these pregnancies translate in school dropouts and a radical, and mostly unplanned, change of life for an adolescent girl.
Traditional sexual education programs are expensive and therefore hard to scale up. The large majority of the existing programs are traditional frontal lectures by professors or health specialists. This makes it very difficult to guarantee the implementation of a basic sexual education curriculum in an educational system characterized almost everywhere by lack of resources.
In the last years, many examples have appeared in North America of programs that have tried to use the internet and other Information and Communication Technologies (ICTs) as an instrument for improving access to sexual education and information. Profamilia - a Colombian non-profit, specialized in the provision of sexual and reproductive health services, has recently decided to invest on internet education to scale up its educational services.
IPA is partnering with Profamilia and GRADE to measure the impact of providing public school students in Colombia with access to 5 modules of Profamilia's sexual education curriculum. The question is whether the internet modules are an effective tool to improve knowledge, and sponsor medium term behavioral change among Colombian high school students who have direct access to the course, as well as whether this has any effect on their peers.