Understanding Sex Education
Wikipedia.org defines Sex Education as instructions on issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
www.plannedparenthood.org says Sex education helps people gain the information, skills and motivation to make healthy decisions about sex and sexuality.
From the above definitions, two things standout; Health and Rights. We get a clearer image of what sex education is and what its meant to achieve. This article is being published now (which is a bit late) because the government of Uganda has already approved to have comprehensive sex education introduced in the school syllabus across the country. But the big question is, will the new provisions of this approval be effected in schools appropriately?
The term safe sex became popular during the HIV/AIDS scourge that started in the late 1980s and became a huge health scourge in Africa especially. a lot of African countries were ill-prepared to fight the scourge, leading to many preventable deaths. the Ugandan government like other African governments, took precautionary measures to combat the scourge, one of which was the ABC format in schools. This education centered around the ABC format and mainly tackled the spread of HIV/AIDS and other STIs. The idea of this was to target young adults and equip them with information on the dangers of unprotected sex. The government thought it wise to widen the information on sex education to also tackle early & unwanted pregnancies. This Information/Education was packaged into two parts, Safe Sex for young adults and Family Planning for married and cohabiting partners in the 1990s. However safe the expected education package seemed, the sex’s ABC format does not completely remove the risks involved in sexual activities, condoms for example are only effective if properly used to the later.
ABC format was abbreviated;
Abstinence – Youth & Teenagers to Abstain from sex till marriage or consenting age. Be Faithful – Promoting monogamous sexual relationships as opposed to the polygamous African setting and C – Encouraged youth and consenting adults to use Condoms should they fail to uphold A and B
Knowing that sex education is just too broad to be categorized by just Safe Sex and Family planning, Civil Society and NGOs like Reach Hand Uganda have been at the forefront engaging the Ministry of Education and Sports to have a progressive, comprehensive sex and sexuality education taught at all levels of education. The move experienced some hiccups. In 2016, New Vision ran an article citing that the new sex education syllabus was aimed at teaching & also encouraging infant homosexuality. New Vision’s ill information caused more damage to the proposal.
Comprehensive Sex Education is a school health education approach which addresses age-appropriate physical, mental, emotional and social dimensions of human sexuality.
Last month, Hon Janet K. Museveni launched guidelines for comprehensive sex & sexuality education in what was seen as a massive step in the correct direction.
What Should We expect from the new guidelines:
The new guidelines are to deliver age appropriate sex education to pupils and students throughout Uganda’s education structure. Children will be equipped with information and knowledge on their sexuality, rights, health and sanitation.
Sex education will move from the norm of only teaching pupils about the dangers of early sex in relation to HIV/AIDS under the ABC format, but also focus on providing information on Menstruation Health to girls, Safe Sex, Behavioral Changes, Mental Health, Gender education, all focusing on achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Its safe to note that the guidelines or framework are cultural, religious and age appropriately sensitive.
Its easy to realize that comprehensive sex education will combat a lot more than educating Ugandans about HIV/AIDS, rather the comprehensive sex education will equip the youth with relevant information on reproductive health as well. Most young adults in the rural areas are misled by traditions and are very ignorant about reproductive health and its pros and cons.
Share your comments on this topic, what’s your take on comprehensive sex education in schools?