Ir. Herdimansyah, A.I.B.:
The National Umbrella Law is Required to Implement Reproductive Health Education
by: AD Kusumaningtyas
Ir. Herdi Mansyah A.I.B., Director of PKBI Lampung was born in Prabumulih, May 3, 1961. Alumnus of Faculty of Agriculture, University of Lampung who continued his studies at the Master of Agribusiness program, University of Lampung, and married with Rita Ulli, who served as one of the civil servants in Lampung. Father of the 3 (three) children: Sarah Ayu Putri Novaria S.I.Kom., Rahma Dinda Dwi Putri, and Adli Gumilang Herdi, who long have been in struggle for reproductive health education (Kespro) is much involved in initiating, managing, facilitating and performing as a resource person in various study forums, seminars and discussions conducted by government, civil society organizations, and communities, including an International seminar on making reproductive health module for pesantren by Unesco in Thailand 2007, as well as workshops on advocacy materials in religious community on Reproductive Health Youth in Chanthaburi Thailand 2006. Here, is the result of long-distance interview between Swara Rahima Editor and Pak (Mr) Herdi.
What do the biggest reproductive health problems of teenagers are facing today?
From reproductive health issues handled by PKBI, it is a problem of reproductive health in general. It is also faced by teenagers in both public schools and in some madrasah. Previously, we also deal with reproductive health problems in pesantren. The issues of teenage reproductive health are very diverse; such as issues of unwanted pregnancy, child marriage, issues related to their rights to convey opinions on reproductive health, abortion, problems related to school psychology in general, and violence against women.
More specifically, what are the typical issues faced by adolescents in pesantren?
The reproductive health issues related to issue of female adolescents in pesantren, among them are about menstruation, whitish, relationships with their opposite sex, common things happen to them. Pesantren itself has issues about general health such as self cleanliness and self health problems.About reproductive health, because they live collectively in pesantren, students(the santri) are often not cleaning themselves and do not pay attention to body health and themselves. Therefore they inevitably often experience problems related to cleanliness of reproductive organs. This is a typical problem often occurs in pesantren.
How do adolescents in pesantren get access to information about reproductive health?
In public schools, they already accessed. In the pesantren there is no specific subject of reproductive health. I noticed, information about reproductive health was coming through fiqh for women or fiqh al-nisa. They learn about menstruation, whitish, how to cleanse themselves. However, all these concepts are more purely related to Islam. That what we have been seeing so far.
After we came, we saw some medical and psychological issues in the issues conveyed by them. When we came, they initially refused, worrying that we would give sex education in sense that it teaches about sexual intercourse. However after that, they just found out that they have not studied reproductive health as described in depth. And of course in conveying, we use some acceptable methods.
So far from where the teenagers in pesantren get information about reproductive health?
The time before we came, they received related reproductive health information in the fiqh for women. It’s not like reproductive health we deliver, there are cases, laws, books, rights for women, adolescent and so on. Things like that are not yet delivered so far. They heard reproductive health later after we came.
Has the issue of reproductive health become a concern of the education world so far?
It’s not entering the education, let alone religious education. They still see it as yet another priority. From scale of development, especially in Lampung for example, it is not real. Today its position neither rejected nor accepted, nor it creates a smooth idea to integrate in the education institutions.
What are the initiatives of reproductive health education that have been implemented by PKBI Lampung?
In general there are several models. First model is SKR (Sanggar Kesehatan Remaja = Youth Health Studio), so we make studios. SKR is an extra curricular of reproductive health education. The SKR consists of students trained by PKBI to convey reproductive health information to their peers.
Other initiatives, we have also inserted reproductive health issues in some subjects such as biology, religion, counseling guidance, sports and health. In those lessons, we insert reproductive health materials, where we gathered several teachers in schools associated, and create a school based module together, that is the example.
Another, the halfway insertion into the curriculum. We use the school autonomy policy. So in various schools we have been assisted, it has also been accepted and has not yet been rejected by the Office of Education and Teaching. They say, yes go ahead.
Are there any religious educational institutions like pesantren and madrasah that involved in the process of inserting Reproductive health into curriculum?
Yes, there are 7 pesantren assisted intensively in implementing the insertion model. The salaf (traditional) pesantren is also included. In public schools, it is also included. In general we developed the DAKU program module. So actually it’s entering in extra curricular. Students get the reproductive health subjects consisting of 10 parts, and they have to go with the class that have limited students, because the reproductive health system with DAKU model using computerized program.
We train the teachers about reproductive health, introduced DaKu module consisting of 10 parts, they are also introduced how to use the module with computer. Finally, we also introduce techniques how to deliver materials. Because these materials are not the most common materials they have been presenting to students in their usual ways. This computerized process requires skill. It also needs the dialogue process. The teachers we trained are the facilitators so they have to understand well, they have to take 4 trainings. Finally, we combine this training with Dance4Life.
Dance4Life is actually an activity where among teenagers tell about HIV/ AIDS. But recently we develop not only about HIV/ AIDS, but also reproductive health. In this Dance4life teenagers must understand 4 important activities undertaken by them. First is inspire. With inspire they must become an inspiration for their friends to care about HIV/ AIDS, reproductive health understanding and so on. They dance in mass, dance together in schools; with the school permission. After the dance they inform in general, the purpose, about their role. Second is educate. Based on the time they agreed to gather at school, and by trained teenagers, they were educated on HIV/ AIDS and reproductive health. Third, is activate. They include various activities related to HIV/ AIDS and reproductive health socialization in schools, such as creating a wall magazine (Majalah Dinding), their activities related to thematic matters. And the fourth or last one is celebrate. They celebrate all the activities they have done so far. Surely this celebration involves many teenagers, schools, and companions. Thousands of people comprising our teenagers gathered in one place, then they also campaigned for the government and other communities.
How do the youth as beneficiaries respond to the programs? What do their involvement look like?
In general they are responsive. Everyone is invited to participate in school activities. They are very supportive, so the school is also very positive to respond it. In the beginning, we are still working based on project, now they have created their own teen forums. But for the time being the secretariate is still in our office. So about their activities, youth forums themselves manage the activities they carry out. So now if there is training and all kinds of socialization, the coach comes from them. There are lectures or discussions, the facilitators come from them. Once a month they meet. Sometimes after returning from the activity, they are still gathering often. That is the activity undertaken by us in in PKBI Lampung.
How do the religious groups respond to these initiatives?
Indeed initially the religious groups tend to resist to these concerns. Then after they understood, especially after we did silaturahim and social visits to the key figures of pesantren, the Indonesian Council of Ulama (abbreviated as MUI), Nahdlatul Ulama, Muhammadiyah and so on, they know what kind of activities we do, and they end up supporting us. Only very few pesantren refused to our program.
Our advocacy efforts, we have been implementing the program since 2 years ago, in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Initially, the Ministry of Religious Affairs (in this case the Ministry of Religious Affairs of Lampung province) together with PKBI Lampung made budget to be submitted to the central government to conduct reproductive health education. First, we trained all the BP (Counseling Guidance) teachers on reproductive health at Madrasah Aliyah in Lampung. In some schools and pesantren, the students and teachers are trained about reproductive health. In addition to the teachers training, the santri and students are trained reproductive health as well. We separate teenagers of Madrasah Aliyah and pesantren (santri).
For santri, several training groups have been conducted. Until now there are 4 batches. It is implemented in cooperation with the Ministry of Religious Affairs. Now we are asked to be the facilitator. In the past, we were the one who organized the activities with the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
What are the other initiatives have been done?
For public schools we developed in Bandar Lampung – capital city of Lampung Province – there are around 48 schools assisted. We also do advocacy to the districts. There are at least 2-3 districts that respond well. The Regent and the Mayor support, they even proposed a budget for the reproductive health training for teachers and students. It’s in Central Lampung, Metro, West Lampung. There is also our advocacy among others to the executive and legislative. Thankfully, they also give us the funds. Now, schools that are close and far away often invite us to deliver matters related to reproductive health through lectures and discussions.
What kind of challenges are experienced? How to overcome those challenges?
We experienced early rejection when campaigning reproductive health education, especially in pesantren. Pesantren refused because they worried we would teach sex education how to get a sexual intercourse. Some schools also rejected it. Someone asked me, is it safe for the kids? Was I sure there would be no unwanted pregnancies and free dating? I say, students are educated for many years to have good education, also in religious lessons, but issues related to unwanted pregnancies still exist. Indeed we can not guarantee that when reproductive health materials are taught, all children will be immune. It is not like that. But at least we can eliminate the risks, and give the choices to the children: this you know, a good thing about reproductive health, and that thing is not good.
They have received so much bad information from the internet and all kinds of media. It is easily accessible by them, and the cost is very cheap. They used to think reproductive health lessons “negatively”, which destructive for them, that was my impression. In pesantren was also like that. What we deliver in pesantren, we keep the reproductive health packaging, not Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) and so on. If the packaging is wrong from the beginning, they would not accept it.
So for PKBI Lampung, the packaging is reproductive health education? Not using the term SRHR?
Yes, reproductive health education. There is SRHR in it, no problem for them, but we entered with the packaging of reproductive health. Every program we develop everywhere should be started with dialogues, invite relevant stakeholders; NU, MUI, Muhammadiyah and invite other stakeholders. So when we entered, we say that we have come here and there. The rejection must exist. However, we hold key figures in pesantren because when a key figure comes along, the others are not so resistant that we will not have too much arguments when facing them.
What are the efforts to include reproductive health as part of the curriculum? Can you mention an example?
That’s what we always do. Hearing with the Regional People’s Representative Assembly (abbreviated as DPRD) every year, discussing with the government, we set the time. They have tough tasks, considering there is no legal umbrella that details governing it. They agreed and accepted all suggestions. After that, we made the academic script, the curriculum, and also lowered it into a regional regulation. In Lampung present conditions, there is no person from local government, religious leaders, even from the Ministry of Religious Affairs who reject it. They have been able to accept, but not yet fully because in the context of situations where there is no rule, no relationship with the legal umbrella. That’s what makes them hesitate. So there are some suggested programs to be implemented through various things, to put into local content (muatan lokal/Mulok), which is in the old curriculum in 2013. So there are some things we insert. For example, there is one bold private school and has a special reproductive health lesson, like a special curriculum put into the local content.
Are there any success stories or lessons learned about how reproductive health becoming part of the educational content?
In Lampung, there is a private school called SMA (senior high school) Utama II. That school, all the foundation administrators, headmaster, teachers supported the effort to include the reproductive health. In SMA Utama II, it becomes a local content subject. But for the public schools are rather difficult, they must have policies from above/regional or nation government. So they can only insert reproductive health through extra-curricular activities.
What should we do to jointly fight for the idea that reproductive health can be part of the school curriculum?
I think at the local level we continue to advocate to the areas we live, and continue to ensure that reproductive health can still be inserted through Mulok/local content subject and so forth. When targeting a national curriculum, then we do the advocacy at the national level. This is because the curriculum was not made in the regions. The curriculum is made at the national level, while the regions are just following it.
If reproductive health so far has grown in the existing schools, their courage is under the auspices of the school autonomy alone. A clear legal rule from the top to the bottom does not exist. We need a joint-effort to advocate at the national level, so there is a clear legal umbrella in the regions. Given it is impossible to draw up rules in regions without legal umbrella at the national level. So, it should be like that.
If we stuck there, while in the national also unclear, we need to fight reproductive health through various ways. The effort has various versions: there is a very frontal advocacy, but there is a bit calm willingness. At the national level, the policy is not there yet, so we need a legal umbrella. In the regions we keep voicing this, and it turned out to have a quite good welcome.
Our advocacy is not a systemic advocacy, because our government, the executive, legislative, they do not see the system. They had made a deal during their tenure, but when the leadership was changed, the policy could change, but not the system. Then we have to do the same advocacy again. This is the main difficulty. The solution, we continue to advocate, especially when there is a change of leadership/rotation, he/she might change what has been agreed by the previous leadership, then we must advocate again from the beginning. This is the challenge!
How can different parties contribute to the policy change to be more friendly to the teenage reproductive health issues?
First, in addition to the activities we did earlier, the task of the government just to advocate to the Health Office. PKBI can not do this activity without any reference, just to PKBI clinic only. We have been working with several Puskesmas (Indonesian abbreviation of Community Health Centres) to have their Memorandum of Understandings. More than 7 Puskesmas to be pilot projects, to be a youth-friendly health center where we train officers, heads of Puskesmas to make a room to approach teenagers. When there are patients, for example have whitish, unwanted pregnancy, they can come to places we have recommended. Second, we can not stop advocacy. The program we have done with the result, we advocate again. So with this celebration and activation, we promote what we have been doing, we ask the government to see, correct, and choose the good things.
Then they can develop what we have done, because in fact it is not our job. We make the pilot project only. Examples of good activities from reproductive health can be developed by the government. When doing advocacy, we do to collaborate with the government or we come for special hearing to DPRD. We can tell them that we have made this pilot, we ask them to continue, because we do not have resources how to tackle hundred of schools in Lampung Province.  AD Kusumaningtyas