Ensuring the Right to Sexual Education for Roma Youth in Romania


Ensuring the Right to Sexual Education for Roma Youth in


D. Iancu (1), R. Teodoroiu (2), Ramona Ursu (3)John Snow


&Training Institute (JSI), Bucharest, Romania (1)


Snow Research &Training Institute (JSI), Cluj office, Romania (2)


for Roma Women’s Emancipation, Cluj, Romania (3)

Background: Romania has the largest Roma population in

Europe. According with the available data, Roma youth, aged 15-24, are the least

likely to receive sexual education in school (early marriage is common among

Roma which decrease their chances to receive it), and Roma women are the least

likely ethnic group to know basic facts about sexual and reproductive health

(S&RH). Total fertility rates and age-specific fertility rates among young

Roma women are the highest in the country. Starting with 2003, JSI support a

Roma NGO to implement in two schools a health education project. Roma students

from the target schools (aged 7-16, coming from a community situated near a

garbage dump, living in unsanitary conditions) attend class separately from

other students, benefiting from supplementary care and teaching, but -due to

this fact- they do not participate in the national school-based health education

program. The main role of this project is to fill the gap by providing sexual

education to Roma students who would not otherwise benefit from it. After the

evaluation, the program plan to be scaled up in other schools. Objectives: 1) to

increase participants’ knowledge about hygiene and S&RH; 2) to improve

their communication and socialization skills; 3) to assist their personal

development; 4) to motivate them to adopt/continue healthy S&RH behaviors.

Design and methods: the project addresses students in

three groups based on developmental stages, in order to provide the most

age-appropriate information during educational sessions, aimed to improve their

knowledge related to S&RH, including Family Planning, sexually transmitted

infections prevention topics. During the education seminars, pre-post

questionnaires are used to assess the knowledge and attitudes acquired by

participants about the subjects covered. Special educational sessions were

designed for older students, aged 14-21, prone to have serious problems,

including drug use and sexual risky behaviors, and counseling sessions are

provided by specialists.

Results: (1) S&RH education curriculum was develop;

the content of the sessions is consistent with the national health education

curriculum, but has been adapted to meet the cultural needs of Roma youth; (2)

S&RH educational sessions are implemented on regular bases, with an

increasing number of participants; intermediate results shows (3) an increase in

participants knowledge, (4) improved sexual behavior (delayed sexual debut,

practicing safe sex), (5) ameliorated social behavior (percent of students

dropping out of school decreased during last year); (6) based on the improved

social and learning abilities of Roma students, a process of integrating them

into regular classes has begun. An unexpected result was the request of the

students’ parents to participate in the educational sessions organized within

the project, which shows the importance of this intervention for ensuring access

to S&RH, too often neglected for Roma people.

Conclusions: the project design, methodology and

curriculum will be shared with the Ministry of Education to be replicated in

other schools which wish to improve access to sexual education for Roma


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