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The World Starts With Me (WSWM)

The World Starts With Me (WSWM) is an Adolescence Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) curriculum implemented in some secondary school in Uganda, Indonesia, Thailand and Kenya with the financial support from World Population Foundation ( ). In Uganda, WSWM is implemented by SchoolNet Uganda in over 100 schools across the country.


Today, over 50% of young people worldwide are sexually active by the time they are 17 years old. More young people become sexually active at a younger age, because of:

  • An earlier onset of puberty that in the past and a later average of age of marriage.
  •  A lack of parental guidance because of increased mobility of young people themselves and their  families and/or increased absence of parents due to economic reasons, HIV/AIDS or broken families; as a result less solid norms on sexuality among youth, easily to influence by peers.
  •  A lifestyle which is financially demanding and poverty: particularly in developing countries, sex is used as a means of exchange or source of income.
  •  A newly emerging, global youth culture with liberal attitudes towards pre-marital sex due to globalisation of a sexualized youth culture and easy access to fragmented and explicit sexuality information via the Internet and international youth media.

Not acknowledging young people’s sexuality and liberal attitudes of a new youth culture lead to unprepared experimenting with a sexual life. Because of this, today’s young people are more affected with sexual health problems such as teenage pregnancy, early motherhood, unsafe abortions, STIs including HIV, sexual harassment and abuse. Also gender discrimination, exclusion for being HIV positive or discrimination based on sexual orientation is a common problem related to sexuality.

In Uganda, sexual reproductive health and rights issues affecting the youth include but are not limited to: peer influence, drug abuse and addition, commercial sex, multiple sex partners, teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortion, trans-generation sex etc.

  1. In a study in 1996 in six districts, including Kampala; 62% of the boys & 32% of girls reported to be sexually active, with the mean age for girls 14 years old, 56% of the respondents had more than one sexual partner, 38% of the boys did not use a condom at last intercourse; 37% even did not know about condoms, teenage pregnancy stands at 43%, more than 50% of girls become mothers before the age of 18 years.
  2. Of women who died from abortion complications in Mulago Hospital, 44.7% were adolescents (study in 1999).
  3.  About 15% of the female adolescents, who had ever been pregnant, had terminated a pregnancy (study in 1992).
  4. In Uganda nearly 50% of the HIV positives are young people; the male-female ratio is 1:6.
  5. Sexual abuse in Uganda is high prevalent. In a study of 1993, 31% of the girls and 15% of the boys had been exposed to sexual abuse.

School-based Sexuality Education

Young people need information and skills to be able to take responsibility for their sexuality and avoid risky behavior that could lead to unwanted pregnancy, STIs or HIV. Young people need to learn how their bodies, minds and feeling are changing as they enter and go through adolescence, how to communicate about sexuality and how to handle societal and peer pressure.

Sexuality education needs to start at an early age and should  integrate sexual health issues in a way that young get the knowledge, skills and support to make own informed decisions about their sexual life, whenever this will start. As sexuality life preferably needs an interactive and long term approach, the school setting provides a unique opportunity:

  •  Most young people can be reached through schools.
  •  Instead of adhoc interventions, a systematic, long-term educational process is possible.
  •  Structurally embedding of life-skills education in the educational system guarantees education over the school years.

The World Starts With Me Curriculum

In 2003, World Population Foundation ( ) , in cooperation with Butterfly Works ( ) , developed and started implementing an innovative computer-based, online curriculum on sexual reproductive health and rights curriculum; the World Starts With Me (WSWM) ( )

In 2004, WSWM received the Golden Nica Award by Prix Ars Electronica in the digital communities category for its relevancy and innovativeness.

The WSWM curriculum which was initially developed in Uganda is currently being adapted and piloted in Kenya, Indonesia and Thailand. WSWM combines IT (Information Technology) skills building and creative expression with sexual health and rights education. WSWM uses experiential learning as the didactic method and follows the principles of three combined approaches: Adolescent development, behaviour change  approach. This combination empowers the young people not only to obtain required knowledge but also to develop appropriate attitudes and learn healthy and responsible behaviour and life skills (communication skills, learn how to refuse and negotiate, using health services, etc). In addition, young people learn how to unfold their creative and IT skills as preparation for modern job opportunities.

As the integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in daily life all over the world is a fact, for most formal jobs basic ICT skills are a necessity. Missing out on basic ICT skills is not an option for talented and motivated youth. Providing relevant and youth-friendly ICT training that attracts youth to experiment more with computers is therefore a necessity.

WSWM curriculum is designed for youth in the age bracket of 12-19 years. The youth do not need to have previous computer experience. Teachers need to be youth-friendly, interested in supporting young people in decision-making and skilled in participatory teaching styles and using ICT tools.

World Starts With Me (WSWM) Principles

WSWM is based on the following principles:

  • Openness and acceptance of young people’s sexuality, not on taboos.
  • A positive, non-judgmental approach towards sexuality, not on fear or control.
  • Equity in gender.
  • The rights of young people to accurate and correct information and to self-determination, in order to make own responsible choices.
  • Active participation of young people, seeing young people as actors and agents of change instead of recipients of information.

World Starts With Me (WSWM) Structure.

WSWM curriculum consists of a student’s part and a teacher’s part and provides for each of the 14 lessons, the learning objectives, warming up’s, presentations, games, tools, guidelines, stories and assignments.

The games serve to help students apply and internalize this information, explore opinions and exercise skills such as creating a storyboard, art work or role play using digital means. By integrating active ICT skills, students become computer literate which can contribute to their future employment opportunities.

The World Starts With Me (WSWM) Content

WSWM curriculum is divided in 14 lessons. The 14 WSWM lessons are set up in a logical sequence of themes to guarantee the efficacy of the curriculum.

  • Lesson 1-3 lay the foundation of decision-making by building self-esteem, getting insight in own sexual development (puberty and adolescence) and exploring the processes of developing autonomy and own values and norms.
  • After the internal focus, in lesson 4-6, the focus shifts to the social environment. The decreasing dependency on parents is addressed, while mapping own social relationships is used to get insight in the support of developing an own value system, and role modeling of life skills as well as support in goal setting and planning for the future. Cultural and political influences in the environment on gender roles and getting empowered by sexual and reproductive rights.
  • Knowing themselves, aware of social influences and entitled to their rights, the potential heath problems are addressed in lesson 7-11.  Learning to communicate openly and discuss sexual health risks related to pregnancy, STIs and HIV/AIDS are supported by strengthening personal decision-making on own sexual behaviour and learning to respect decisions of a partner. Respecting the rights to self-determination, to physical and mental integrity and to protection and health care is the core value in addressing stigma, sexual harassment and abuse. The sexual health part integrates how and where to look for support in case of sexual health problems.
  • In lesson 12-14, lessons learned are used for goal setting and planning the future and learning to share them with peers and the community. The curriculum is completed with making peer books and inviting parents and the community to the exhibition which shows the class results; slogans, posters, action plans, peer books etc.

Each WSWM lesson has:

  1. Learning objectives: These have been categorized into three: What a student should know after the lesson (knowledge). How the student should feel about certain issues after the lesson (Attitude).  What a student should be a able to do after the lesson (Skills).
  2. Theme based warm up exercises that get students relaxed and focused..

World Starts With Me Project Cycle.

The WSWM project cycle starts at the beginning of the year (during the Dec-Jan holiday) and ends Sept- Oct of each year.

The project cycle has the following key activities.

  1. A 3-day Orientation workshop for the core support team.
  2. A 2-day Headteachers’ sensitization workshop for new WSWM schools.
  3. A 2-day Headteachers’ orientation workshop for old WSWM schools.
  4. A 5-day training of teachers of new schools.
  5. A 2-day orientation workshop for teachers of old WSWM schools.
  6. A 5-Day National Camp for the Student Peer Educators.
  7. A 1-day sensitization/launch at each of the new WSWM schools to get the buy-in of others members of the school.
  8. On-going Training of students covering the 14 WSWM lessons.
  9. A 2-day Mid-term review workshop for teachers.
  10. A 2-day Mid-term review workshop for the Core Support Team.
  11. A 1-day Exhibition school/regional/national) .

World Starts With Me (WSWM) Participating Schools.

World Starts With Me (WSWM) Participating Schools.

The numbers of Uganda schools participating in WSWM has been increasing since WSWM started in Uganda: 3 schools (2003), 10 schools (2004), 28 schools (2005), 50 schools (2006), 68 schools (2007) and 100 schools (2008) and plans are for 150 schools for 2009.

The following schools participated in the 2008 project cycle:
Namilyango College, Bishops Senior, St. Peters Nkokonjeru, Hilltop SS Nkokonjeru, Nyenga SS, St. Joseph’s Naggalama, Stella Maris Nsuube, Wanyange Girls, Kiira College Butiki, PMM Girls, MM Wairaka College, Teso College Aloet, Soroti SS, Olio Community Polytechnic, Comboni College, Dr. Obote College, St. Katherine Girls, Lango College, Lira Town College, Rachele Comprehensive SS, The Almond College , Moroto High , Kotido SS, Tororo Girls, Tororo College, St. Peters SS Nsambya, St. Joseph’s Girls Nsambya, Mbogo High, Kyambogo College, Ndejje SS, Nalinya Lwantale Girls, Luwero SS, Gulu High, Sir Samuel Baker SS, Pope Paul II Gulu, Gulu Central High Secondary , Awere Secondary, St. Joseph’s Layibi, Masindi Academy, Kabalega SS, St. Theresa Girls S S, Army Day SS, Excel Boarding, St. Joseph’s Ombachi, Mvara SS, St. Mary’s Ediofe Girls, Kitara SS, Bwikya SS, Duhaga SS, St. Andrew’s Kaahwa, Bukomero SS, Bweranyangi Girls, Bukooli College, Busia SS, Dabani Girls, Muntuyera High, Ngora High, Ngora Girls, Bulo Parents SS, Kasaka S S, Kibibi SS, Buwagga SS, Mbale SS, Entebbe SS, Mt. Rwenzori Girls SS, Airforce SS, Lukalu SS, Nabisunsa Girls, Gayaza High School, St. James High School Nansana, Alliance High School Nansana, Aidan College, Lubiri SS, Nabumali Ligh School, Namapo SS, Kakira SS, Ndejje High School, Muni Girls, Tubur SS, Nganwa High School, Lumino High School, Buhobe SS, Fatima Aloi SS Lira, St. Mary Magdalene SS Lira, Y.Y.Okoth Memorial College, Mbarara Army SS, Iganga SS, 3 R’s SS, Mbale SSMoroto Parents, Nadunget Seed School and Bwera SS.

WSWM Achievements to date:

The World Starts With Me (WSWM) program has made a number of achievements. Below are some of the achievements:

  • The number of WSWM schools has expanded from 3 schools (2003) to 100 schools (2008).
  • WSWM won a Golden Nica Award at an occasion held at the United Nations Headquarters in New York for its relevancy and innovative method for delivering sexuality education to the youth.
  • Based on its success in Uganda, WSWM has been adapted and piloted in Kenya, Thailand and Indonesia.
  • An effect and a process evaluation of WSWM program in Uganda has been made this year 2008.  Intial results indicate positive results from both teachers and students. The final evaluation report will be shared with all the stakeholders when it is ready.





Over the years, SchoolNet Uganda has received a number of International and national awards for its contribution to ICT4D. Some of the awards are:

  1. Stockholm Challenge Finalist
  2. The Golden Nica Award by Prix Ars Electronica
  3. ICT Capacity Development Award by Uganda Communication Commission
  4. The Uganda Annual Best FOSS Integration Case Award, 2005