24.09.2016 Opinion

The Need For Comprehensive Sexuality Education In Schools With Emphasis On Ghana

By  Jonathan Brew
Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, Education Minister
LISTEN SEP 24, 2016
Prof. Naana Jane Opoku-Agyemang, Education Minister

It’s 7am in the morning, rush hour time. I sat behind two young beautiful ladies in a trotro. As I look through the windows, admiring the beauty of life that exist in my country. These two ladies in front of me are having a discussion about something. Its private conversation but too loud that I can hear them. It’s about all that most adolescents discuss when they meet. I couldn’t help but to listen in. To my surprise these two from their conversation glows huge arena of myths and misconceptions.

The question is “what are our youth discussing? Are they well informed?”

Lack of Comprehensive Sexuality Education particularly for the youth is of great concern. Ghana has a large youthful population with those between 15-35 constituting more than 50 percent of the total population according to 2010 population census. Notwithstanding the fact that more than half of the population being youthful, less attention have been given to this cohort group.

Youthful period especially adolescents stage is characterized by a lot of confusion since most changes that occur in human growth occur within this period. Changes such as physical, biological, psychological and social are evident at this stage. According to World Health Organization it is estimated that about two-thirds of premature deaths in adults are related to early adoption of harmful behaviors initiated in adolescence such as unprotected sex, violence, smoking, or substance use.

The history of comprehensive sexuality education in Ghana date back to the early 1970’s where the government recognized the importance of CSE so introduced what it called the family life education on a pilot bases. Family life education was a subject that covered areas including comprehensive sexuality education and this was done with the main aim of helping young ones to improve on their quality of life and prepare them towards a responsible parenthood. Later in 1987, the government of Ghana fully implemented it at all basic and secondary schools. This to many health and development experts was a step in the right direction since it helped solved problems like teenage pregnancies, school dropout as a result of teenage pregnancies, sexually transmitted infections that were high among the youth.

But what do we see now, family life education is no longer part of the educational curriculum as a subject on its own but rather part of social studies. This as result reduces the effectiveness of its delivery. What it means is that social studies teachers who are tasked to deliver topics on family life education which forms part of social studies fail to accord it the necessary needed attention thereby defeating the purpose for its introduction.

The teachers are not be blamed much for their inability to deliver in this area. Family life education just like other subjects needs specialized skills to deliver effectively to achieve results. The sensitive nature of topics treated under this area requires individuals that have undergone special training in guidance and counseling, health education, adolescent reproductive health, behavioral change communication and many more.

I must say that University of Cape Coast should be commended for seeing the urgency to initiate the Population and Family Life Education programme in 2007 to train teachers that would churn out as teachers for family life education subject.

From my point of view I believe family life education should be separated from social studies and treated as an independent subject. This when done would increase information access by the youth on sexual and reproductive health that would enable them to make informed decision. It will as well reduce the millions of cedis that are spent on sensitization by the government, local and international NGO’s on campaigns geared towards prevention of teenage pregnancy, STI’s and other social menace and rather channel them for other developmental projects.

I call on the Ministry of Education, members of the legislature, Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection and other relevant agencies to treat this with all the urgencies it needs for a better Ghana.

Jonathan Brew

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