• July 20th, 2019
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Hanse-Himarwa defends sex education plan

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Albertina Nakale Windhoek-The Minister of Education, Arts and Culture Katrina Hanse-Himarwa has defended the mooted Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) course to be offered in primary schools, saying nowadays children are exposed to all sorts of sexual content, more so than ever before. This follows concerns raised by some religious leaders and several teachers that the graphic content learners will be exposed to in the CSE course, as part of the subject life skills, would further encourage learners to engage in sex and inappropriate sexual contact. Several of the clergy have objected that the syllabus even expounds on topics such as anal sex and same-sex relationships, but proponents of the programme say that more controversial topics only come up in later years, as from Grade 7. However, the minister in an interview with New Era said there is no way that a responsible government would do something that is not in conformity with the Namibian constitution. She defended the curriculum being drawn up for Namibian children, which she said is aimed at holistic learning. According to her, every single piece of content in the new curriculum would fit in properly to build and educate the Namibian child. “It’s not true, there is nothing destructive. There is nothing satanic about it. The children must continue to learn. We must know that our societies are evolving with time. Today’s seven-year-old is not yesterday’s seven-year-old. The children have got a lot of exposure through different media and it’s better that we educate and teach them about sexuality, instead of running away from reality and allow people from outside to influence our children wrongly.” She said the best place children can be taught about sexuality is at home, and then in schools under the responsible authorities. Life skills as a non-promotional subject is taught in schools from Grade 4 to 12 and CSE is integrated under the holistic wellness topic. In Grade 4 it focuses on puberty, good and bad touch and the risks of skin cancer, amongst others. Church leaders raised their concerns about the CSE manual after the permanent secretary in the Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture, Sanet Steenkamp, made a presentation at the #BeFree movement event organised by First Lady Monica Geingos last week. The #BeFree movement takes the form of youth-focused debates and panel discussions on various topics, including the high rate of school dropouts, poor academic performance, alcohol and drug abuse, cyber-bullying, teenage pregnancies, dating, and violence, including incest, among others. Geingos last week hosted an information-sharing session with church and community leaders from Khomas Region to introduce them to the #BeFree movement and to discuss possible areas of collaboration and partnership with the aim of working towards a common goal of strengthening families and empowering the youth. There several pastors called for another opportunity and platform for consultation on the CSE manual. One said the CSE manual should be sensitive to the country’s culture and the predominant religion. Thus, the participation of church leaders, parents and people in rural areas needs to be considered. “We want to know our children are safe in schools,” the pastor lamented. In her presentation, Steenkamp explained that CSE does not focus on sexual intercourse, nor does it teach learners how to have sex. “It does not encourage young people to have sex. It does not teach young people how to take away their innocence by engaging in promiscuity.” She noted that it also does not follow an “abstinence until marriage approach”. Steenkamp said the manual proposes abstinence as an option, but aims to respond to the reality of the situation that not everybody will abstain. She said the CSE manual of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) is under review. Namibia has made its input on issues relevant to the country. She said the manual was produced for 20 countries and serves as a guideline. It does not say teachers must tick off everything. “We have our own curriculum and syllabi. If you go through it, it talks about sexual identity, sexual intimacy, reproductive and sexual health, incest and rape. It talks about things we don’t want to talk about.”
New Era Reporter
2017-10-31 08:45:55 1 years ago

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