Unpacking the comprehensive sexuality education debate

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Following misleading reports about sex education in school, as opposed to sexuality education, a section of the Namibian ecumenical society has expressed its reservations against what they perceive as sex education in school, especially at primary level.

It is indeed pleasing to see the church community expressing itself on the matter, because the church is and should be part of the moral compass of society.

The morality being referred to here is not intrinsic and parochial morality, but as part of the regime of morals in society at any given time, which can and may be based on many beliefs other than just religious beliefs.
And, not only for the sake of religion but for the sake of the greater good of society, and in this instance of the future of the Namibian child, especially the girl child. It is an undeniable fact that currently many Namibian girls do not finish school because of unplanned pregnancies.

More often than not such pregnancies are happening within our homes, which must and should be the observatory posts of high morals, including Christian morals, and thus guardian angels of the innocent girl child.

Ultimately, it is left up to schools and the teachers to deal with the consequences of such pregnancies. More often than not, while homes and society at large are supposed to be the starting point of inculcating the youngsters with appropriate societal morals and values, whatever the nature of such morals and values, whether religious, cultural and what-have-you, the role has been assigned to the schools and teachers.

Be that as it may, in this secular era, teachers cannot, must not and should not be expected to approach such a matter purely from a religious point of view, if they at all should approach it from this perspective, but in a holistic way as Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CES) is proposing and imploring them to do.

It is especially instructive to note that CES is not there to deal with or teach children sex, but to make them aware of matters of sexuality, to forewarn and forearm them against sexual exposure as posed by modern means of communications like the internet.

Thus, CES can and should only be seen – contrary to the general belief of it teaching children about sex and encouraging and disposing them towards sex – as only there to alert them to the deceitfulness and temptations of various media, especially explicit sexual material that they are daily exposed to behind closed doors, away from the watchful gaze of their parents and/or guardians, who can and should guide them, and also educate them on the harmfulness of such material.

“Effective sexuality education can provide young people with age-appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically accurate information. It includes structured opportunities for young people to explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the decision-making and other life skills they will need to be able to make informed choices about their sexual lives,” reads an excerpt from a UN resource pack on the subject prepared for teachers.

But how more can the objective of CES be in this regard. Not as a last and only resort but as part of a holistic approach to early sexual activeness among youngsters, especially school children, but a necessary intervention at school level. This by no means precludes parents and society at large at respective levels continuing with the necessary interventions, especially with the moral and cultural education of children, which many a times they seemed to neglect.

One cannot but also highly recommend to the UN to as much as possible distribute the same resource pack to the society at large, especially to the church community to familiarise themselves with its content, so that an informed debate on the matter may ensue.

“The children have got a lot exposure through different media and it’s better that we educate and teach them about sexuality (emphasis on sexuality and not sex), instead of running away from reality and allow people from outside to influence our children wrongly.” One cannot but agree with the minister of education.

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