Number of new HIV infections among adolescent girls and boys (15-19) and young women and men (20-24)
Target for 2017: reduce by 50%
Target for 2020: reduce by 75%
With over 2 million people, 36.8% of the population in Lesotho is under the age of 15 years old. The country’s public expenditure on education is 13% of GDP and health is 8.5% of its GDP.
The proportion of trained teachers is only about 60%, which could result in a significant compromise to the delivery of quality of education. Furthermore, while net attendance rates for primary school look good at 87% and 91% for males and females respectively, the same is not the case with secondary attendance rates, which are 23% and 37% for young men and women. Therefore, there is a need to monitor and ensure consistent school attendance by young people.
The HIV and AIDS and Life Skills Education curriculum was introduced in 2005 and teaches primary school grades 4 to 7 and secondary schools from A to C. Though the curriculum includes some important components, it either misses, or inadequately addresses the issue of understanding sexually transmitted infections (STIs), as well as information about condoms, condom use negotiation and contraception. Despite the fact that the curriculum addresses bodily changes occurring during adolescent years, there is no mention of the connection between sex and pregnancy. Sexuality is presented in an entirely negative light through focusing on sexual abuse, the need to abstain and the risks of sex. Self-efficacy and communication skills are also inadequately addressed. The issues of avoiding multiple-concurrent partnerships and intergenerational sexual relationships are only rarely mentioned. The curriculum has been made mandatory in all educational institutions, but still has huge strides to make.
Prevalence of STIs and HIV are relatively high, which is likely contributed to sexual activities happening at a young age, as 8.5% of males and 21.5% of females having had sex before 15 years old. The high prevalence of child marriage in Lesotho exposes young girls to the risk of early pregnancy, HIV and STIs. Along with teenage pregnancy and the lower status of girls, this contributes to higher school drop out rates for girls.
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