The World Starts With Me (WSWM) is a computer-based, rights-based, comprehensive sexuality education programme for in- and out-of-school youth. It targets in- and out-of-school youth in the age bracket of 12-19 years. WSWM was developed in Uganda in 2003 by Rutgers WPF in collaboration with Butterfly Works, SchoolNet Uganda and teachers and students of pilot schools. Now, it is being used by numerous schools and youth clubs in a number of countries in Africa and Asia.
WSWM is an innovative curriculum on sexual and reproductive health and rights, which is available on CD-ROM, the internet and in print. It combines SRHR education with building IT skills and creative expression. With WSWM, we aim to contribute not only to the improvement of the sexual and reproductive health of young people, but also to their social and economic development.
In the WSWM programme, virtual peer educators guide young people through a learning process, thus relieving teachers and other educators of the task to initiate sensitive discussions. The 14 lessons start with building self-esteem, exploring personal values and norms and gaining insight in one's emotional and sexual development in order to make well-informed decisions.
The next sections address the social environment: relationships with parents, friends and peers; gender equity; and sexual and reproductive rights. Then, we focus on sexual health issues such as unintended pregnancy, STIs/HIV, AIDS stigma, sexual harassment and abuse, while keeping a positive view on sexuality.
With its positive, explicit, rights-based approach towards sexuality WSWM proves to be an effective and attractive tool, adaptable to different countries, cultures and settings. A cross-cultural evaluation that was done in 2009 among more than 9,000 young people in Uganda, Kenya, Indonesia and Thailand showed some significant effects. These included:
- Increased knowledge and risk perception
- Intention to abstain from sex
- Intention to avoid forced sex
- Positive attitudes towards condoms
- Self-confidence in condom use in the future
- The intention to consult health services when needed
The WSWM methodology is used in Uganda, Kenya, Thailand, Indonesia, Papua (a part of Indonesia), Vietnam, Pakistan and Ethiopia. Currently a WSWM pilot is held in Ghana. Malawi, Zambia and possibly Congo will be added to the list.