|Facts of life: The As We Grow Up display at the Museum of Ethnology. — VNS Photo Khanh Chi
HA NOI (VNS)— An exhibition on healthy sexuality for Vietnamese adolescents and young people, the first of its kind, has opened at the Museum of Ethnology in Ha Noi.
Entitled As We Grow Up, the exhibition is a joint effort of the Ministry of Education and Training, the Ho Chi Minh Communist Youth Union, the museum and the United Nations organisation in Viet Nam.
Addressing the event's opening on Friday, UNESCO Representative to Viet Nam Katherine Meuller-Marin emphasised that "all Vietnamese children and young people should have access to comprehensive and age-appropriate sexuality education from an early age."
"Teachers and parents should be open to communicate with children and young people about sexual matters to ensure that they receive accurate sexuality-related information," she urged.
Puberty, friendship-love, and safe sex come into sharp focus at the six-month exhibition, which is brought to life by real stories and experiences shared by Vietnamese adolescents, their parents and teachers.
"We have done a lot to raise the young people's awareness about healthy sexuality, but the display about this issue is regarded as the first ever in Viet Nam," said the museum's director Vo Quang Trong.
Highlighting the importance of such a practical story-telling manner, UN Resident Co-ordinator Pratibha Mehta said "This exhibition is powerful in the way that it delivers critical and sensitive information in a youth-friendly way. It's designed to help equip young people to handle life's most serious decisions."
Young people aged 10-29 make up nearly 40 per cent of Viet Nam's total population. Yet, studies show that one-third of them continue to face barriers when trying to access reproductive health information and services. According to the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey 2010, there is a very high need for contraception among unmarried young people.
"Young people are becoming sexually active earlier - often having unprotected sex due to limited access to information and contraceptives," the UN official stressed.
"Teen pregnancy is rising. Young men and women also need to have the skills to form good relationships.
"Equipped with the right knowledge, skills and opportunities, adolescents and young people can invest in themselves, their families and communities."
In addition to the photos, stories and art works displayed, the exhibition also features peer-to-peer interactive activities and hands-on information to address sensitive issues, as well as monthly in-depth discussions on related-sexual and reproductive health issues.
"The display is fully informative with eye-catching and interesting arrangements of photos, written messages and drawings, especially the design for the whole display area," said Nguyen Thi Kim Anh, a third-year student from the Ha Noi Academy of Journalism and Communication.
"I came to know quite a lot about the issues related to our age through the exhibits and leaflets distributed there. Visiting the exhibition, I felt excited to discover that what I have learned so far remains too little because the stories and information shared here is based on real-life experience," added Anh.
One of the innovations of the exhibition is the young people's active involvement in the preparation process from planning, designing, creating contents and collecting information to develop interactive activities. A group of 15 students participated in the preparing the exhibition, while 60 other young volunteers will assist with the interactive activities, providing consultation and answering questions from visitors during the exhibition.
The exhibition runs until the end of next April at the Viet Nam Museum of Ethnology, Nguyen Van Huyen Street, Cau Giay District.— VNS