MARGARET SAMULELA, Arusha
YOUTH from the Media Network on Child Rights and Development have called for a comprehensive sexual reproductive health education curriculum to protect young people from vices such as teenage pregnancy and contraction of sexually transmitted diseases (STIs).
Speaking in an interview during the 2017 Youth Forum in Arusha, Tanzania, recently, Media Network on Child Rights and Development junior reporter Mwiza Zulu said a lack of access to adequate reproductive health education is one of the key issues acknowledged and highlighted by young people as needing immediate address in the Zambian system.
Ms Zulu attributed most of the teenage pregnancy cases to lack of knowledge caused by the lack of safe spaces for young people to access information from.
“Most of the time, teenagers will rely on their peers for information, but this is usually inaccurate because it is gathered from unqualified and unreliable sources that young people pick from the internet,” she said.
Ms Zulu also said lack of inclusion in the decision-making process has resulted in youths feeling left out and neglected. She cited an incident last year when the organisation invited political leaders to a discussion in Lusaka at which only one political party sent a representative.
“The other thing that has stood out in our discussion in Zambia is that we would like to have full inclusion in the decision-making process on matters affecting us,” she said.
She said at many fora, young people are reduced to performing small roles without being given an actual long-term platform to be part of the solution.
“Young people are usually used to present flowers, or read a speech which is thereafter filed. However, what we are advocating is a platform that will enable us to give us an opportunity to be there from the inception to the implementation of any project that we are involved in,” she said.
The organisation has bureaus in 10 districts through which meetings are held with other young people to discuss issues affecting them.
Other key issues brought out by youths from other countries who attended the youth forum included child marriage, child abuse, child labour and early marriage.
The youth forum was held in Arusha, Tanzania, hosted by the Regional Psychosocial Support Initiative (REPSSI) ahead of the Psychosocial Support forum under the theme Equity, Equality for all girls, boys and youth.