Grantee Spotlight: Francis Oko Armah
To make comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) curricula and programs effective, the perspectives and lived experiences of adolescents and young people need to be central to their development and implementation. Francis Oko Armah (Oko) saw the opportunity to support a group of youth and adolescent advocates to input into processes that can make CSE guidance more responsive to their needs and experience.
"Perspectives and experiences of young people irrespective of the communities they come from can directly influence policy change and produce great development outcome - but only when they are empowered with information."
— Francis Oko Armah
To this end, through the CSE4ALL project, Oko’s team used a multi-pronged approach to advocate for CSE in Ghana. The project worked to elevate young people’s experiences through communications advocacy efforts to garner support for quality CSE, while also facilitating constructive dialogues with a diverse set of partners, including community leaders, local authorities, health workers, and young people within a safe environment.
Working closely with Marie-Stopes Ghana, Ghana Education Services, Ghana Health Service, and Curious Minds the project team played a key role in organizing and participating in a national consultation on integrating CSE into school curricula. Oko facilitated this national consultation and the result of this effort was that the Ghana Education Service accepted there were gaps in the current, more conservative, curricula.
Oko with Traditional Leaders in Teshie
“Never be intimidated to have a dialogue with a strong opposition to your advocacy message. Even if it doesn’t necessarily work, it’s the starting point for greater opportunities. Dialogue always works!”
— Francis Oko Armah
The project demonstrated that it is possible for young people to find a safe space to dialogue with stakeholders on CSE to promote youth SRHR and address current challenges in the community through live radio discussions during Adolescent Health Celebration Week, participating in a national consultation for integrating CSE in the educational curricula, and petitioning the Ghana Education Service.