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EIFL-PLIP Phase 2 – Replicating Success
Tanzania Library Services Board (TLSB) will use information and communication technology (ICT) to break the silence about adolescent sexual and reproductive health through its new service for teenagers.
The ICT training programme is one of two new services of the TLSB to receive an EIFL Public Library Innovation Programme (EIFL-PLIP) grant. The service will be based in the National Central Library, in Tanzania’s capital city, Dar es Salaam.
‘Most parents still do not feel comfortable talking to their children about sex and sexuality, and so many children and youth experience confusion, fear and misunderstanding as their bodies grow and change,’ said Ms Somo Mnubi, head of the library.
‘Some people fear that access to information will only lead to greater sexual activity among youths. But adolescence is a time when young people experiment with sex, and they have a right to proper information, to reduce the risk of early pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS,’ she said.
The service will dedicate eight computers to teenagers. Access to the internet will be free and librarians will train young people to use search engines to research databases to find reliable information. The library will also host events where teenagers will be able to interact with health workers skilled in working with teen sexual and reproductive health issues.
‘With the right information, young people will make the right decisions,’ said Ms Mnubi.
The new service will also encourage debate about issues like early marriage, abortion and harmful sexual practices.
Background to the sexual health information service for teenagers
Many parents do not feel comfortable talking to their children about sex and sexuality. However, adolescence is a time for sexual exploration and experimentation, and children experience confusion, fear and misunderstanding as they journey through their teens. Without the right information, teenagers are at risk of early and unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortions, sexual harassment and exploitation and contracting sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea and HIV/AIDS.
The Tanzania Library Services Board (TLSB) aims to end the silence around adolescent sexual and reproductive health, and to reduce risks for teenagers, through an ICT training and information service.
The new service
The service will be offered in the National Central Library in Dar es Salaam. The library will install eight computers and dedicate them to teenagers for research. Skilled librarians will train primary and secondary school pupils to research the internet, so that they know how to use search engines efficiently and are able to locate reliable information in health databases. In addition, the library will host events at which teenagers can interact with adolescent sexual and reproductive health experts.
TLSB will partner with experts from UNICEF (the United Nations Agency that protects and promotes children’s rights) and with teachers of local primary and secondary schools.
The service replicates the Ghana Library Board’s successful Internet Access and Training Programme. The service is offered in the Northern Regional Library in Tamale, and builds young people’s ICT and leadership skills to improve their chances in life.