Periods are unavoidable and very complex. COSMO wants to create an open environment for kids to learn what is and isn’t normal regarding menstruation. Menstrual education in schools – for both boys and girls – is a step towards normalising periods and removing the stigma attached to such a natural part of life. But we need your help.
Last year, we conducted a COSMO Period Survey to find out what our readers thought about menstruation. The results shocked us. Ninety percent of our participants felt there was not enough education in schools regarding feminine healthcare and menstruation. It’s clear that there is a definite lack of menstruation education in schools. What can we do about it? We’ll tell ya.
We’ve partnered with Stayfree and their #StayfreeToLearn Schools programme – an initiative that has reached almost 1 million girls South Africa, discussing puberty and menstrual hygiene. Their educators visit schools, use flip carts and other visual aids to explain the wonder and normalcy of menstruation and then open honest discussion on the topic. This helps girls to understand that what they are experiencing is both natural and normal, helps them to grow their self-confidence and feel comfortable and make their move to achieve both physical and academic goals.
COSMO 2018 Period Survey Findings
Here are the top five findings from the survey:
Hold up, isn’t it being taught in life orientation?
Yes, it is. But the subject is only assigned to a certain amount of hours and a certain age group. In 1997, outcome-based education was introduced into the South African school system, and a new subject was included in the curriculum for grades 7 to 12 – life orientation. Physical education, health, social and environmental responsibilities, constitutional rights, and development of self in society are the learning areas required by the Department of Education in all life-orientation programmes.
We applaud the Department of Education’s initiative to give each child a holistic education. By allotting time (varies from 1,5 to two hours) in the school week to open the dialogue to discuss formerly taboo issues, we are preparing our youth for a much more empowered future. Our teachers are expected to do a lot and we understand that there can often be a big difference between what’s on paper and what happens in reality.
However, as our Period Survey results revealed, there is not enough education surrounding menstruation. Therefore, our aim is to get involved and ensure that menstruation education is more in-depth in schools.
Here’s What We’re Asking The Government To Do
When you sign the COSMO X Stayfree Menstruation Education petition, you will be asking the Department of Education to make three big changes:
- Provide education about periods, puberty and sexual health to all school children (not just girls) from as early as nine years old (Grade 5 level). On average, girls start their period at age 12, with one University of Cincinnati study reporting that about 10 to 15% of girls enter puberty at age seven or younger – a phenomenon known as precocious puberty.
- Allocate more hours to period education in the LO curriculum and provide more relevant information (including sanitary-hygiene options, how to manage pain, endometriosis, etc) to current LO educators.
- Put supportive systems in place for all girls, to make sure not one of them misses school because they don’t have sanitary products or proper pain management.
There’s power in numbers and we can do this!
Sign The Petition & Make a Difference
You can sign our petition here, asking the Department of Education to make menstrual education a mandatory and valuable part of the curriculum.
Read More Body Health