A case for sex education in Kenya

Reproductive health is generally ignored because of the African  societies notion that sex is supposed to be discussed by adults.

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Lately there has been the increase in sexual activity especially between the ages of eleven to fifteen years.  This has given  birth to calls for ‘sex education’. Considering what has been taking place with the myriad of teenage pregnancies and other problems affecting teenagers.

Sex education should not be understood to  just solely mean sex. Its consists of sexual health, sexual reproduction and sexuality which is a common discomfiture to many parents. Since time immemorial young people have been left to their own design when it comes to sexuality. It’s not uncommon for many to admit they have learnt more about sex from their friends other than their parents.

When the education stakeholders make a call to inoculate sex education several quarters have been of the opinion such policies will be cropper. Sex education is a sure step to demystifying   myths surrounding sex for example, one cannot get pregnant the first time they have sex

Not long ago newspapers published a story about a 14-year-old-girl who gave birth to triplets at the Bungoma District Hospital. She gave birth to the babies through normal delivery. It’s quite pitiful what the young lady went through because at such an age she is supposed to be going to school and not bearing maternal responsibilities.

This reality should awaken our Kenyan society to reconsider its stand on sexuality. Sex matters, especially in our traditionally conservative communities, are held as taboo. The parents and the society shy from discussing sex matters, both at home and in public, especially with regard to their children. Sex matters are strictly confined to the precincts of the bedroom.Religionhas to a large extent been a stumbling block to teaching sex education to children.

 Religions often oppose the comprehensive introduction of sex education in primary and secondary schools. They consider students at this level ‘still too young.’ With time we lose out on a chance of informing these young people on sex matters and leaving them to find information which is adulterated and of little help to them.

The government also isn’t vocal in promoting sex education but adopts availing it in bits as one progresses up the academic ladder. Therefore, students pass through teenage years with little understanding about sexuality.

So we finally give credence to the media to take the overall charge of our children’s sexuality and this leads to sexual experimentation. Because the media is the biggest cultural transmitter in today’s society we tend to take everything as the wholesome truth. Many parents have abdicated the role of parenting and moral upbringing to the media. You can vouchsafe many young people want to mimic the shady lifestyle they see on TV because they are depicted as ‘cool’

We must now more than ever not be afraid to speak out to the young people about sex. In Estonia, a national sexuality education programme was introduced and linked with accessible, youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services. Between 2001 and 2009 some 13 490 ‘health events’ were averted in the country, including nearly 2 000 HIV infections, at a potential lifetime cost of US$ 67 825 per patient, approximately 4 300 unintended pregnancies and more than 7 000 sexually transmitted infections.

According to Mark Richmond, UNESCO’s Global Coordinator for HIV and AIDS, the landmark study gives an economic basis to the argument that sexuality education provides a key platform for HIV prevention amongst young people.

Reducing the sexual transmission of HIV by half by 2015, including among young people, is one of the goals of the UNAIDS Strategy. However, the 2010 UNAIDS global report shows a critical gap in comprehensive prevention knowledge about HIV amongst this age group and that about 40% of all new HIV infections among adults occur among young people aged 15-24. There is the growing recognition that school-based sexuality education has the potential to play a key role in improving young people’s knowledge for HIV and AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases

 By Don King

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