Editor's Comment

Strike middle ground on sexuality education

THERE is raging debate on the relevance of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in the education sector.
It all started with Evangelical Fellowship of Zambia petitioning the Ministry of Education over CSE because of its potential to turn school children into morally and sexually irresponsible and dysfunctional future leaders.
Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs Godfridah Sumaili feels the subject can open a window for weird behaviour like homosexuality while the Basic Education Teachers Union of Zambia is of the view it is appropriate for learners in the era of globalisation.
Ministry of General Education Permanent Secretary Jobbicks Kalumba wants an indaba to discuss the contentious issue.
CSE aims at giving learners knowledge, attitude, skills and value to make appropriate and healthy sexual choices.
But some stakeholders think CSE has contributed to depravity among school children.
Yet the introduction of CSE was with good intentions as school girls were getting pregnant while others were victims of sexually transmitted infections.
Some pupils, especially the girl-child, were being molested sexually.
To protect the girl-child from unwanted pregnancies, STIs and molestations, it was thought wise to introduce CSE.
CSE was intended to empower the girl-child with knowledge to make informed decisions on matters of reproductive health – either to abstain, use a condom or indeed abort in case of unwanted pregnancies.
Stakeholders are currently giving their versions on the appreciation of CSE in the country’s education system.
There is need not to rush to pull down the CSE curriculum without critical understanding of the objective it is trying to address.
For those who are supporting the introduction of CSE, the educationists and specialists for reproductive and sexual behaviour on young people, let them give their researched position why they saw it fit to put the content they chose to be part of the curriculum.
Inarguably, sexuality is a complex issue and times have changed. Young people are being introduced to sexual information at a young age, be it in rural or urban settings.
This is why children as young as 10 years are getting pregnant and having children. There are young people at that age who are taking contraceptives, and talking about boyfriend and girlfriend sexual affairs.
These children cannot be left without being guided to find a health map about their sexuality. And such a guide can only come through institutions of learning, where the children spend much time with their teachers
And there cannot be any way to help these children other than through a robust sexual education training starting at an early age.
Yes, even those calling for revisiting of the curriculum have a right to do so. Albeit they should not do it for the sake of being morally correct but to ensure that a proper moral labyrinth is crafted alongside the curriculum.
There is no need to use religion or culture to argue against comprehensive training of sexuality in schools because sexual vices are also rife in Church.
Despite cultural and religious moralists being around, the stark reality of our children taking on sexual behaviours that are not healthy is in black and white.
Further, we know that virtually all healthy human beings end up growing up seeking to form healthy sexual relationships. There is nothing wrong to give children a guided, well-controlled and informed perspective on human paths.
There are arguments that the current CSE content launched in schools is too explicit. But instead of looking at what most parents, religion and culture fear to talk about, we should carefully look at the framework that guided the crafting of the curriculum on sexuality. And our question should be, What does each component in the framework intend to address and achieve?
Maybe, it is time to replace CSE with a child-friendly form of education on the matter. The content might be okay but the cultural stand of society and also the comprehensive levels of the Zambian children at lower primary are too low to assimilate the sordid data the way it should be taken in.
Again, maybe, the country should revert to the default cultural setting where such issues have a place in cultural teachings instead of a copy-and-paste system alien and harmful to Zambia.

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