If there is a reason why the #BetterLife4Girls tweetup focusing on teenage pregnancy was a success, then that reason was that we got to hear and learn exclusively what teachers think of sexuality education in schools.
The discussion of including sex education on the school curriculum received a lot of rejection and controversy not only from ministry of education but the general public,here is what teachers have to say to all this
“We get various questions about sex from our students and our tongues are tied because we risk losing our jobs if we dare to address these questions. These young people need to know what can happen to them if they are exposed to sex and how to handle themselves especially girls. Unfortunately some students get pregnant and they are forced to drop out of school”. One of the teachers commented.
The assumption that parents are supposed to take the reins of sex education is absurd considering children spend the biggest share of their lives in schools. This leaves teachers with an important role to play when it comes to shaping what type of adults these young people will grow to be.
They are often charged with giving adolescents their first, and sometimes only, factual source of sex information.
“Unfortunately the government/ ministry of Education and Sports only allows teachers to talk about abstinence, teaching children that the best way to avoid pregnancies and disease is to not have sex, with little or no education on birth control options in the shell of age appropriate education. This does not reduce the likelihood that a teenager is ever going to be sexually active besides the fact that some are already sexually active and this kind of information does not cater for them.- a senior woman and S6 class teacher commented
‘’Before being teachers we are parents, we can’t continue to sit and watch our daughters make uninformed choices and drop out of school as a result of teenage pregnancy’’ another teacher voiced.
“I will always spare every 20 minutes of my lesson time to talk to my students about their reproductive systems, sexually transmitted infections and the realities of teen parenthood to build their esteem, goal setting and prepare them better to avoid teenage pregnancy” said Mr Yunus a senior teacher at Kinaaawa High school
Teachers have a role to play in ensuring all students achieve their dreams. Part of this role is to give these young people SRHR information within their scope of reasoning putting in consideration that abstinence only is quite unrealistic for older teenagers. This role is what gives the students an opportunity to communicate their challenges, hence gaining the knowledge to learn-and overcome them.
Amidst all this, a key message kept resounding in our ears, bringing hope for the younger generation from the teachers; “We are parents to our sisters and daughters before being teachers”