There is need for a robust campaign to increase reproductive health education in schools to help the youth avoid risks associated with early sexual acts.
The call was made by experts meeting in Kigali at a two-days regional dialogue on comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) organized by the Health Development Initiative (HDI) in collaboration with the Rwanda Education Board (REB) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).
Discussants from seven countries including Rwanda, Tanzania, South Sudan, Zambia, Burundi and Uganda, shared experiences on sexual education implementation and perception.
They agreed that cultural beliefs and taboos are among the obstacles hindering a breakthrough to increased awareness among the youth.
Rwanda, for example, is revising its programs to ensure the topic is well integrated into the school curriculum.
“We have been working with schools, some of them allowed us to show children how condoms are used and others said no you can’t do it,” said Dr. Aflodis Kagaba, HDI Executive Director
Kagaba said that taboos or countries’ cultures shouldn’t portend the reality of human beings of being sexually active, thus allowing teachers and parents to discuss with their children about sex at the appropriate age.
“Parents never discuss sexuality with their children, even teachers don’t give enough information about reproductive health. They skip the topic instead of teaching it,” said Akobedetse Ritha Benitha, a student from Burundi who attended the summit.
She confirms that the particular conference on comprehensive sexual education implementation will help a lot to change people’s mentality.
Numerous challenges were assessed during the dialogue notably culture, taboos and mindset.
Broadly, participants also looked at the risks associated with ignorance about sexuality. Risks of acquiring and suffering from HIV/AIDs and early pregnancies were among those that came at the center stage.
Meanwhile, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has offered training teachers and parents in a way that allows them to dare and discuss topics with students.
“Rwanda has experience in adopting best practices for implementation with accurate information involving schools, AIDs club, parents and civil society,” said Kagaba.
He recommended that through continued dialogue, comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in different countries will come through.