16 May 2018

Uganda: Government Drafts Policy On Teaching Sexuality

Photo: Daily Monitor
Education Minister Janet Museveni

Kampala — The government has released a policy to guide all stakeholders teaching sexuality education in institutions of learning.

The Education minister, Ms Janet Museveni, said they rejected Comprehensive Sexuality Education concept which she alleged targeted schools as recruitment grounds for homosexuality and claimed that it undermined the country's values.

Instead, the government has formulated the National Sexuality Education framework which will now guide the teaching of sexuality education in institutions of learning.

"I was deeply disturbed to discover that sexuality education initiatives were unregulated, unguided... I soon discovered that there were active threats targeting our schools, even primary schools, as recruitment grounds for homosexuality and other perversions," Ms Museveni said at the launch of the Sexuality Education Framework last Friday.

She added: "My first stand against this threat was to firmly reject the concept of Comprehensive Sexuality Education, which includes ideas like "sexual rights", "sexual tolerance", "sexual choices", "sexual differences" and "non-judgmental" attitude to any sexual orientation."

In 2016, Daily Monitor published a story that 100 schools were tricked into teaching homosexuality.

Parliament subsequently banned teaching of Comprehensive Sexuality Education until a policy was in place to guide the teaching.

Reactions

However, while stakeholders appreciated the initiative to control what sexuality material goes into schools, they are skeptical that some individuals will manipulate the document for selfish gains.

Ms Peninah Byarugaba, a mother and director of Rising Sun Family, a non-governmental organisation, wondered who will monitor what is being taught in those classrooms.

"I am seeing danger. You want a three-year-old taught what that private part is called. The same child will ask the teacher what it is used for. What should the teacher answer?" Ms Byarugaba warned.

"My worry is these NGOs that bombard our children with contradictory information about sex and sexuality. While government is giving the right information, these people have the money to use all corners and before we know it, the children are spoilt, " she said.

Ms Patricia Rutiba, a mother of three, said she is comfortable as a parent to be the one to introduce sexuality education to her three -year-old child.

Representing the Inter-Religious Council, Rev Can William Ongeng, the Church of Uganda Provincial Secretary, appealed to government to work hand in hand with religious bodies in developing the material and implementing the framework so that the country's values are recognised.

"We support the framework but it must be guided. Nobody should do it with selfish motives. It should be done with guidance from parents as well. The teaching must be guided by the religious faith to see that each child is helped," Rev Ongeng said.

Ms Museveni said teachers would be trained on the new policy.

The framework

With the framework now in place, the messages have been grouped into five categories.

The early childhood group between the ages of three to five will be introduced to knowing themselves, recognise forms of unacceptable body touch to develop self- awareness and refusal skills.

The lower primary level has children between six to nine years and will learn and discover their talents, understand unacceptable body touch and appreciate the changes in male and female body during puberty.

Upper primary with pupils aged between 10 and 12 year are expected to be able to define purpose of one's life, maintain personal hygiene and commit to sexual abstinence.

The fourth group looks at lower secondary with students of 13 to 16 years. Here, the document proposes that a child should be able to cope with risky behavioural vulnerability during puberty and be able to identify where and when to seek appropriate reproductive health services.

The last group has considered those children who are 17 years old and above.

The emphasis is put on the role of gender and power in relationships, how to apply personal values, commit to pre-marital abstinence and marital faithfulness and to be able to appreciate the role of strong marriages and families in national development.

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