Hukuntsi — Condom distribution in schools was core of discussions during the First Lady, Ms Neo Masisi's engagement with Lehutshelo Junior Secondary School pupils recently.
As UNAIDS Special Ambassador for Adolescents and Young People (AYP) empowerment and engagement, the First Lady collaborated with the National AIDS and Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA) for countrywide roadshows intended to interact and empower young people.
The first leg of the roadshows commenced in the Okavango area around June, followed by the central region and the third leg included Kang, Hukuntsi and Mabutsane.
In Hukuntsi, condom distribution in schools was a key factor.
While pupils advocated for condoms to be freely distributed to prevent the spread of HIV, especially new infections, others opined that such would be encouraging early sexual encounters among learners.
One pupil said instead of calling for condom distribution in schools, learners should abstain and wait for their bodies to be fully developed.
Even though she acknowledged that condom distribution in schools was always a topical issue in various fora, the principal education officer in the Ministry of Basic Education, Ms Ofentse Rampete, noted that there was need for a consensus to be reached before making a conclusion. She, therefore, encouraged learners to stick to abstinence and focus on their studies.
"You should accept that your minds and bodies are still developing and therefore are not ready for sexual relationships. Love relationships come with a lot of responsibilities that would likely derail you from your goals," she emphasised.
District AIDS coordinator for Hukuntsi Sub-district, Ms Keodiretse Seretse acknowledged that there were learners, who were already involved in sexual matters, even though the general expectation was for them to be focusing entirely on school.
She said even though they did not distribute condoms in schools, they had a youth friendly clinic intended to assist out-of-school youth and therefore, urged learners to use such facilities not only to access condoms, but also for other services such as family planning.
"We have to admit that some of our learners have already started experimenting with love relationships and therefore I encourage you to visit the youth friendly clinic to avoid compromising your health," Ms Rampete said.
Source : BOPA