Puberty is a critical life period during which young adolescents must navigate major physical, cognitive, and social changes. A positive relationship with an open-minded, supportive, and trusted adult is one of the most valuable resources a young adolescent can have during this period.
Dama is one such adult—and he’s on a mission to create more supportive environments for young adolescents in rural Madagascar.
Currently in his second year of training to become a government math and physics teacher, Dama is teaching at a rural middle school in the Ambalavao district during the 2022-2023 school year.
“I wasn’t always that open-minded, and I didn’t always get along with my students,” says Dama. “I used to be a community-hired teacher. Back then, teaching felt difficult, especially when it came to managing my students. Often, I would resort to yelling or giving harsh sermons in the classroom.”
Now, Dama is not only a math and physics teacher-trainee preparing for a career as a public school teacher, but also a Sexuality Educator.
It's an opportunity newly possible through Projet Jeune Leader’s partnership with Madagascar’s government teacher training institute in Haute Matsiatra.
Because of this dual role, he has become a better teacher for his adolescent students.
“I always use bits and pieces from my sexuality education courses when I need to re-group my students. Listening skills are an example: When students become distracted in my math or physics courses, I remind them of the key messages about listening skills [from the sexuality education curriculum]. When my students are a bit sleepy, they are the ones who now ask for a participatory icebreaker that they know from my sexuality courses to regain their focus.”
Even though Dama is still a teacher-in-training, he strives to be a model educator and wants to see his students succeed.
“Whether it is for math, physics, or sexuality education, I feel that when I teach my lessons, it is important [for students] to be able to practice. And when students feel comfortable with me, they are motivated to participate and share ideas. And when they don’t understand something, they are comfortable asking questions.”
Dama says that becoming a Sexuality Educator helped him not only as a teacher, but also as an individual. The benefits extend to his students.
"I am proud to wear both—my teacher's uniform and my Sexuality Educator uniform—and students know they can either call me Mr. Dama, or Educator Dama. I feel that these two roles are completely interdependent because now I can relate to and engage my students and we have a closer relationship... Becoming a Sexuality Educator has contributed to both my personal and professional development. I strongly believe in these roles and responsibilities and I hope they stay. Because these are what give each student the skills that they need to become their best selves, too.”
Learn more about the new program and partnership that made this opportunity possible for Dama and his students.