• December 5th, 2019

Boy child should not be left behind – Wentworth


NAIROBI – Boys, as they are lagging behind, must be included in the same efforts empowering the girl child to ensure she completes her education. 

Boys also need to be taught about comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) and their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).

This was said by Ayesha Wentworth, deputy director in the Directorate Programmes and Quality Assurance in the division of Diagnostic, Advisory and Training and Services (DATS) in the education ministry, who added that they are looking at practical interventions whereby they have to go where the learners are and engage them. Wentworth emphasised that everything is about empowering a girl child but at the same time boys are being left behind hence the need to involve them.  She said in the Namibian context boys are not advancing in education at various levels compared to girls.

Wentworth was a Namibian delegate at the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) 25 Nairobi summit held last week in Nairobi, Kenya discussing CSE – the foundation for ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health.

 “We must not forget the boys. They are an important target audience and we must not leave them behind. Girls don’t make themselves pregnant – boys (men) make them pregnant, and we need to teach men and boys about CSE and SHRH,” stressed Wentworth.

Kenya, Denmark and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) organised the summit, which aimed to mobilise the political will and financial commitment urgently needed to finally and fully implement the Programme of Action of the 1994 International Conference on Population and Development. The summit also marked the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the landmark programme of action of the ICPD by 179 government and other stakeholders in Cairo, Egypt in 1994.

According to a report on adolescent sexual and reproductive health in Namibia, of March 2018 provided by UNFPA, five percent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 years had sex before the age of 15 while boys are at 13 percent.  

Among the same age group 68 percent of girls had multiple partners and used a condom at last sex while boys were at 78 percent.  

What individuals, families and communities can do, according to UNFPA, is to educate girls and boys about sexuality to avoid unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections including HIV.  And build community support for preventing early pregnancy and the provision of contraceptives. 
In Namibia, CSE is integrated in the life skills subject and across curricula taught in schools from Grade 4 up to 12.

Wentworth said that when it comes to CSE some of the areas to explore is using information technology such as social media and youth engaging information.

She said Namibia has a strong lifelong learning programme where there is the opportunity to integrate CSE, information and education for parents who are illiterate and uneducated.

“In the Namibian context, we have a rural setting so we need to use radio which is accessible to our elders, use a language of their choosing and need to look at children with disabilities,” she said.

Wentworth said the CSE resource pack for teachers has been translated into Braille for teachers working with learners living with disabilities but has not yet included children with hearing impairment and those with intellectual impairment who cannot be taught on the same level as mainstream students.
When asked why CSE is a priority and what the intended outcome is, Wentworth said CSE is about teaching learners life skills. 

“It is about tolerance, respect, personal growth which includes how to be in a relationship, how to engage with the opposite sex and how to respect themselves and their bodies.”

“The challenges we have are GBV and early and unintended pregnancies. What we want to see is learners who are empowered to protect themselves, to be able to say ‘no’ to unwanted sexual contact but also see a decrease in GBV,” added Wentworth.

Wentworth said the area they need to work on is parents and religious leaders because that is where the CSE pushback comes from. “We have political will, but that is where our problem is, still with parents and religious leaders. Although we have to engage them, we need to work hard to ensure that people are well informed and educated about the realities of CSE.”

The event concluded with public and private sector partners pledging billions of dollars and commitments towards ICPD 25 to accelerate the promise of ending maternal deaths, unmet needs to family planning, GBV and harmful practices against women by 2030.


Selma Ikela
2019-11-18 07:54:50 | 17 days ago

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