SFP 10-14 in Uzbekistan: Parents and Teachers Ask for Additional Sessions

Children discover the world, learn their rights and social norms every day of their lives. They are also exposed to the negative influence both at school, at home and outside. Drugs, crime and deviant behavior can significantly hurt the lives of children and their families.

The 2018 World Drug report has found that drug use and the associated harm are the highest among young people compared to older people. Most research suggests that early (12-14 years) to late (15-17 years) adolescence is a critical risk period for the initiation of substance use and may peak among young people (aged 18-25 years).

Strong attachments between parents and children, supportive parenting and supervision, monitoring and effective discipline have all been found to be linked to less engagement in problematic and risky behaviours during adolescent years. In particular, parents have been found to be a powerful protective factor for children and adolescents with regard to substance abuse.

One of the UNODC programmes aimed at preventing drugs and crime among children is the "Strengthening Families Programme for youth aged 10-14" (SFP 10-14). In Uzbekistan, the programme was successfully adopted and piloted in the selected schools of capital city.

In September, as a follow up to the parents and teachers' request, UNODC jointly with the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan, conducted a training for 20 psychologists, teachers and youth leaders of Tashkent city, selected from among the facilitators trained in April of this year.

"Parents learnt about that there are additional Booster sessions to the seven core sessions of SFP 10-14 that they actively participated in. They kept sending requests to conduct additional four sessions. So, we realized we have to approach the Ministry of Public Education and UNODC and ask to consider this opportunity." - explained Ms. Gulkhayo Samandarova, a teacher of the school #132 of Tashkent city, the training participant.

The event aimed to develop trainer's skills in the application of teaching techniques based on new methodological approaches and conducting trainings in accordance with the international standards, based on the evidence-based research. In the frame of the training, participants were also trained to conduct Booster sessions, which are the part of the SFP 10-14.

According to the joint plan of the Ministry of Public Education and UNODC ROCA, prepared trainers will conduct Booster sessions in selected schools of Tashkent city from September 24 to October 17. Children and their parents will participate in 4 sessions, which are aimed at sharing life skills to overcome stress in school and preventing its negative impact. Booster sessions are practicing the skills acquired by families in the previous 7 sessions, as well as teaching new skills and techniques to apply special parenting methods to solve problems, identify stress factors and find ways to eliminate them.

"During the training, we improved our skills in conducting 7 sessions. We went through the challenges and solutions once again. What is more, we learnt four additional sessions. Now we are ready to go back to schools and hold the family skills trainings." - said Ms. Gulkhayo Samandarova.

In 2016-2018, the SFP 10-14 was successfully implemented in 19 schools of Tashkent city. The evaluation of the effectiveness of the programme showed statistically significant improvements in the most important family characteristics of helping children in the healthy development of children and youth, such as: knowledge of the abuse of tobacco, alcohol and drugs, positive involvement of parents in the educational process; family harmony; the involvement of youth in family life; mutual relations in the family; family communications; peer pressure resistance.

"It is for the first time I speak gently and heartwarming to my child" said one of the parents tearfully, hugging her child at the sessions we conducted" - shared her memories of sessions in April Ms. Gulkhayo Samandarova.

The conducted training marks a five-year anniversary of successful and productive cooperation between the Ministry of Public Education of the Republic of Uzbekistan and the UNODC ROCA on implementation of evidence-based and effective family skills training programs.

Ms. Ashita Mittal, UNODC Regional Representative for Central Asia, thanked the Ministry of Public Education for productive cooperation during the years and noted that the participants are becoming the part of the global initiative, which promotes international best-practices of preventing drug use through family skills training programmes.

As a result of fruitful cooperation between the Ministry of Public Education and UNODC ROCA on further expansion of the programme implementation, a regional training for the representatives of the all 14 regions with experience of working with youth and families is envisaged in beginning of November. Trained specialists will be responsible for further scaling up of the SFP 10-14 throughout the country.

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