The Kenyan government’s plans to expand coverage of sex education in the country’s primary schools through incorporating dedicated lessons into the national curriculum have been met with criticism
The Kenyan government’s plans to expand coverage of sex education in the country’s primary schools through incorporating dedicated lessons into the national curriculum have been met with criticism.
Kenya’s Ministry of Education wants guidance on sex and sexuality to become a distinct topic in the new curriculum, which is currently incorporated into other subjects such as civil education.
Campaign group CitizenGo, however, has criticised the plans for encouraging promiscuity among young people and has petitioned the Ministry not the implement what it describes as a “dangerous proposal”.
Campaigns Manager Ann Kioko said that it would teach very young children that they are sexual, can experiment with homosexuality, and that abortion is their right.
She added that the organisation was not opposed to the type of sex education that informs children about the changes their bodies undergo as they grow.
One presiding Bishop of the Christ is the Answer Ministries, one of the most influential Pentecostal churches in Kenya, gave a statement to a Kenyan newspaper saying that the proposed comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is highly explicit and focuses on children obtaining sexual pleasure, as well as promoting high-risk sexual behaviours as normal.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Education, Kennedy Buhere, said that sex education was already embedded within the existing primary school curriculum, with the knowledge calibrated to fit the age of the children.
He added that the new content on sexuality had also taken into consideration the country’s religious and cultural values.
According to the UN population fund, over 370,000 10-19 year olds in Kenya became pregnant between July 2016 and June 2017, almost 29,000 of whom were under 14.
The fund also found that some children had started having sex as young as eight, and the 2014 Kenya demographic and health survey found that 18% of teenagers were pregnant or already mothers.
Another survey conducted by the African Population and Health Research Centre in 2017 found that even though 75% of Kenyan schools covered sex education topics available in the current curriculum, only 2% of students felt they had learned about all the topics, with the classes focused mainly on anatomy and HIV prevention.
The National Aids Control Council said that 43% of the 61,000 new HIV infections recorded in 2016 were in young people aged 10-19 years.
A doctor and former Director of Family Aids Care and Education, a Health Ministry organisation offering medical and counselling services to HIV patients in Kenya, said that education was critical for schoolgirls as, if the information is correctly relayed, they can be protected and able to make choices.
In Uganda, the Ministry of Health has refused to endorse a proposal to give 15 year olds access to free contraception and family planning services.
It condemned the idea as an “erosion of morals” and said the move would encourage promiscuity and abortion.
Read More: Helen Jones MBE, Director of Youth Affairs and Education Programmes at The Royal Commonwealth Society (RCS), explores the role of education in preventing child marriage and highlights the part played by the RCS and its partners in building momentum to get the issue onto the agenda of the formal Commonwealth