There has been so much controversy around Comprehensive sex education that I am sure all of us have been left wondering what it even means right?
What is it?
Commonly known as CSE- comprehensive sex education is an instruction method based on-curriculum that aims to give students the knowledge, attitudes, skills, and values to make appropriate and healthy choices in their sexual lives. The intention is that this understanding will prevent them from contracting sexually transmitted infections in the future, including HIV and HPV.
CSE is also designed with the intention of reducing teenage and unwanted pregnancies, as well as lowering rates of domestic and sexual violence, thus contributing to a healthier society, both physically and mentally.
It’s also expected to promote sexual abstinence as the safest sexual choice for young people. However, teachers are still committed to teaching about topics connected to future sexual activity, such as age of consent, safe sex, contraception i.e. birth control, abortion, and the use of condoms.
The conversations around CSE also includes discussions which promote safe behaviors, such as communicating with partners and seeking testing for both partners. Additional discussion surrounding pregnancy outcomes like parenting, adoption, and abortion is part of the package.
BENEFITS OF CSE.
- CSE acknowledges that people may engage in premarital sex rather than ignoring it thus allowing educators to give the students the necessary information to safely navigate their future sexual lives.
- There is clear evidence that CSE has a positive impact on sexual and reproductive health (SRH), notably in contributing to reducing STIs, HIV and unintended pregnancy.
Sexuality education, unlike what most people believe, does not hasten sexual activity but has a positive impact on safer sexual behaviours and can delay sexual debut.
“A study in Kenya, involving more than 6,000 students who had received sexuality education led to delayed sexual initiation, and increased condom use among those who were sexually active once these students reached secondary school compared to more than 6,000 students who did not receive sexuality education.”
Wikipedia (Source unknown)
This means that CSE greatly reduced the frequency of sex and the number of partners which in turn also reduces the rates of sexually transmitted infections.
- UNAIDS and the African Union have recognized CSE’s impact on increasing condom use, voluntary HIV testing and reducing pregnancy among adolescent girls and have included comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education as one of the key recommendations tofast track
the HIV response and end the AIDS epidemic among young women and girls in Africa.
- Also, as the field of sexuality education develops, there is an increasing need to address gender, power relationsand
human rights in order to improve the impact on SRH outcomes thus integrating content on gender and rights which makes
education even more effective.
- CSE has a demonstrated impact on improving knowledge, self-esteem, changing attitudes, gender and social norms, and building self-efficacy.
CRITICISM OF CSE.
- CSE has been accused of fundamentally operating as a form of “abstinence-plus,” due to the reality that it often involves minimalbody related
information and excessive promotions of abstinence.
- Also, the LGBTI community is not included.
The term “comprehensive” is also often misleading because some comprehensive programs do not show the holistic picture of human sexuality. LGBTI activists have long been critical of the ways in which comprehensive sex education generally promotes marriage as the end goal for students.
Even when curriculums claim to be inclusive of LGBT experiences, they often promote heteronormative agenda as “normal.”
Inclusion of LGBTI identities is necessary for students to feel safe and visible in their sex ed classrooms. When these students do not have an interest in marriage they are practically erased from the CSE narrative.
- Many people regard sexual health education as a moral or religious issue,” and therefore should be taught not in schools.Most of the people who are in favor of
abstinence onlyeducation, usually fear any type of sexual education that encourages sexual behavior at a young age.
DO WE NEED IT?
Although CSE is seen as the complete opposite of “abstinence only” education, some people believe that they are very similar since they both aim at preventing STIs and teen pregnancy.
The only way in which they might differ is through their primary goals. Abstinence only education aims at reducing premarital sex while comprehensive sex education acknowledges that premarital sex may happen and therefore seeks to reduce the unintended consequences of premarital sex through education.
Still, this doesn’t prevent information about CSE being pushed out there. Due to knowledge gaps in most sex education curricula for adolescents, free online resources have been created to promote comprehensive, inclusive sex education for teenagers.
The question is:
ARE WE FOR CSE OR NOT?
© Nyar Afrika 2018.
The views and opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of NYARWEK NETWORK.