A CONSORTIUM of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) has strongly dismissed and refuted as unfounded, allegations being fronted by opposers of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Zambia that it promotes promiscuity, homosexuality and abortion.
The CSOs have argued that to the contrary, CSE provides young people with opportunities to explore their values and build skills and knowledge thereby reducing their risk of getting diseases such as HIV and other STIs, avoiding Child marriages, sexual abuse, among others.
This is according to a statement issued by a consortium of CSOs constituting; SAfAIDS, CRHE, NZP+, FAWEZA, FDI, TALC, MNCRD/ZANEC, REPSSI, PPAZ, Africa Direction, GAL, Sports in Action, WiLDAF, YWCA, Zambian Men’s Network (ZMN) and ZANERELA.
The CSOs noted that CSE had contributed to reduction in teenage pregnancies and child marriages, adding that comprehensive knowledge among learners on HIV and Sexuality had increased by 25 percent since the introduction of CSE.
“We note and celebrate that CSE has contributed to reduction in teenage pregnancies between the years 2014 to 2017, although cases are still high. Prior to the roll out of CSE as part of the revised national curriculum in 2014, school dropouts due to teenage pregnancies among adolescent girls was about 13,275 at basic school level, while with introduction of CSE, there has been reduction in school dropout by about 3,000 cases. CSE has also contributed to reduced child marriages from 42 percent to 34 percent during the same period. Comprehensive Knowledge among learners on HIV and Sexuality has increased by 25 percent since the introduction of CSE (Ministry of Education Statistical Bulletin 2018),” they stated.
The CSOs therefore dismissed and refuted as unfounded, allegations being fronted by opposers of CSE in Zambia that it promoted promiscuity, homosexuality and abortion.
They added that the Zambia CSE Framework including the accompanying teacher guides and learner supplementary books did not have any single section or sentence which promoted such.
“We strongly dismiss and refute as unfounded, ill intended and not evidence-based, allegations being fronted by opposers of CSE that it promotes promiscuity, homosexuality and abortion. The Zambia CSE Framework including the accompanying teacher guides and learner supplementary books do not have any single section or sentence that promotes such. To the contrary, CSE provides young people with opportunities to explore their values and attitudes and build skills and knowledge thereby reducing their risk of getting diseases such as HIV and other STIs, avoiding Child marriages and unintended pregnancies, gender-based Violence, sexual abuse and delay sexual debut,” the Consortium stated.
The CSOs therefore called upon the Ministry of General Education to open up consultations and dialogue with all stakeholders to discuss the current misconceptions around the Zambia CSE curriculum.
“We call upon the Ministry of General Education to open up consultations and dialogue with all stakeholders to discuss the current misconceptions around the Zambia CSE curriculum with an open mind and to seek opportunities to strengthen it, if required. This approach will allow the millions of children and learners to continue benefiting from the Ministry of General Education CSE driven curriculum and to avoid reversing the gains made thus far in reduced child marriages, teen pregnancies and school dropout among adolescent girls,” they stated.
“We are convinced that halting the implementation of CSE even for a short period without wider consultations with key stakeholders including, government Ministries, partners, traditional leaders, parliamentarians, religious leaders, teachers, parents and learners would have far reaching repercussions and will reverse hard fought gains that have been achieved especially over the last 10 years under the leadership of Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu.”
The CSOs stated that they were alive to the Sexual and Reproductive Health challenges which adolescents and young people were currently facing, and further applauded the positive efforts made by the government in addressing the challenges through the introduction of CSE in Zambian Schools.
“We the Civil Society Organizations who complement the Zambian Government efforts in implementing Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Zambian Schools from Grade five to 12, are alive to the Sexual and Reproductive Health challenges that adolescents and young people are currently facing. These include: 12 percent girls and 16 percent boys experience sexual intercourse before the age of 15 and three in every 10 of adolescent girls in Zambia become pregnant before the age of 18 years. An average of 15,031 adolescent girls dropout out of School due to pregnancy every year, while the Zambia Demographic and Health Survey revealed high prevalence rates of STIs including HIV among the 15 to 24 age group. Adolescent birth rate in Zambia stands very high at 146 births per 1000 women aged 15 to 19 years and four in every 10 girls get married before the age of 18 (Demographic Health Survey, 2018),” stated the CSOs.
“We acknowledge and applaud the positive efforts made this far by the Ministry of General Education and Ministry of Health in addressing the challenges highlighted above through the introduction of the age and culturally appropriate CSE in Zambian Schools under the leadership of His Excellence Dr Edgar Chagwa Lungu who is also the African Union Champion against child marriages.”