Treatment consisted on an online sexual education course designed by the Colombian NGO Profamilia. Profamilia is Colombia's largest organization focused on sexual health and reproductive health. With more than 40 years of presence and over 1,800 employees nationwide, Profamilia is well known by the local population.
Motivated by the deterioration of some important adolescent sexual health indicators nationwide, such as teenage pregnancy rates (DHS 2005), as well as legal changes, which mandated the introduction of a sexual health curriculum in Colombian public schools, Profamilia embarked on the design of a comprehensive online sexual education course designed for adolescents.
The curriculum aims to shape adolescents' understanding and perceptions of sexuality, risks, reproductive health, sexual rights, and dating violence. The overarching theme is a human rights approach to pregnancy and teen sexuality. The course focuses on helping the students recognize themselves as endowed with rights, such as the right to say no to sex, to access basic health services, to access family planning services, and to live without sexual violence. Profamilia's course takes full advantage of internet connectivity to provide an interactive experience and responsive, anonymous counseling. The modules can be potentially accessed any time of day using a password protected account, and there is a remote tutor available to answer questions and support the learning process. These features aim to create a safe social environment for adolescents to discuss sensitive topics.
Treatment consisted of five modules. Students worked on the course for a total of 11 weeks. Each group of treated students was initially given three weeks to become acquainted with the platform and complete activities in the first module. After the first three weeks, each group was given two weeks per module to complete activities in the remaining four modules. Each school dedicated one session of 1.5 hours per week to allow the students to complete the course in the school’s computer labs.
In school, each group taking the course worked with the presence of a teacher, who was tasked with helping the students resolve questions about use of and access to the platform but not questions related to the content of the course. Students were assisted and monitored by an online tutor, who was a trained Profamilia counselor that dedicated part of his or her day to overseeing students during their completion of the course. The tutors had two main roles: answering students' questions about the course contents and monitoring the student's performance.
At the end of every module, the tutor provided the teacher responsible for the group with a grade for each student, based on the results of a test. Each school participating in the course included these grades as a component of the grade of one subject, typically computer education. Each student had to complete module evaluations individually, which were the basis for his or her individual performance report. Participation in the course was mandatory for students.