27 October 2017

Namibia: Sex Education in School

There are reasons why people are not happy with the new curriculum for sex education, perhaps it is true that it is too crude, that it teaches children not only to abstain from sex and to be careful, but also to engage in questionable sexual behaviour.

This is a discussion and a consultation that should continue and must be held in a manner that is instructive and objective with regard to the realities children face today.

Crucial to this discussion is the fact that the responsibility to teach a child about sexual identity and give sex education should never be solely left to teachers, or the school. That is something parents should teach their own children.

Each household, each family and indeed each community should have an input in how their children should be brought up. After all, it is not job of the school and teachers to teach morals to children. That is the job of the parents.

Yet, at one point, there would be parents who fail to do their job and there are households without parents. It is for these reasons that schools and teachers, were roped in to teach children the basic skills that would enable children to protect themselves from any form of sexual abuse.

Such teaching could include teaching children when to say no, and to identify cases of rape, incest and how to avoid getting pregnant while they are young. Of course, everyone agrees schools should not be used to encourage children to have premature sex.

The discussion around Comprehensive Sex Education curriculum needs to take place countrywide, and the final curriculum - whatever curriculum we, as Namibians choose - needs to be a curriculum that speaks to the wider Namibian society, a society that is predominantly Christian, a society that is proud of its heritage, traditional norms and cultural values.

Perhaps we need to identify what our ancestors did right to curb teenager pregnancy and promiscuity in adolescents. We may not be able to use or adopt all the old ways - some of which were really crude, harsh and inhumane - as they were in today's modernised society. But surely the ways of the past can inform, and perhaps help us to come up with new ways that do not go against our values as a society, whatever values we as Namibia are striving to keep.

We are not Americans or Europeans. We are different. We are firstly Africans and secondly Namibians. Whatever sex education we are going to provide our children should help them identify themselves as Africans and Namibians.

Our children will never be Europeans or Americans, even if they are to be taught the European or American way. Let us find solutions that speak to our problems and not just import and transpose the whole curriculum, as is.


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