By Taban Robert Aggrey
National Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) has been preparing for the integration of comprehensive sexuality education in the school curriculum. This will be aimed at strengthening HIV prevention and fostering positive health outcomes in South Sudan under the theme: Young people today, time to act now.
Over 60 stakeholders gathered at Millennium Hotel in Juba for a three-day workshop to discuss the strategies of integrating sexuality education into schools.
In his opening remarks, the Director General for Quality promotion and Innovation, Omot Okony Olok, said issues of human anatomy, growth and relationships are surrounded by utmost silence and secrecy.
“This is because of the mystery, myths and norms imposed by society. As a result, many children as they grow become curious and inquisitive,” Olok said.
He said many children get lost in adolescence when answers to their many questions are either not given, not satisfactory or seem not very true and they seek answers from the peers.
“These answers given by peers are compounded with mischief, misconceptions, myths and some are experiment-oriented, putting children at risk for various forms of infections, early pregnancies, stress, and other health and psychological disorders,” he said.
He said sexuality encompasses knowing and appreciating oneself as God’s creation, feeing attracted to the opposite sex, desiring to love and be loved, understanding human growth and development, management of our bodies and behavior change.
Olok said in African Societies, sexuality issues were passed on to the youths by older members of the community on issues of growing up, relationships and how they should conduct themselves.
“Today’s family set up and lifestyle does not allow for such education anymore, children are left on their own, in darkness to discover themselves and wade through the mysteries in life,” said Olok.
He said people need to break this silence by engaging the children by giving facts about growth process and what they are likely to encounter in life while equipping them with appropriate knowledge, skills and positive attitude to face related challenges.
“This helps the children make informed decisions in life, such information can be passed well through quality education curriculum by integrating sexuality messages in to other subjects and infusing into teaching and learning process,” he continued.
Deputy Director for HIV/AIDS/STIs in the directorate of preventive Health services, Ministry of Health, Dr Emmanuel Oryem Lino, said his ministry would, jointly with other partners in promoting good health and well being of individuals and communities.
“We need to prevent early and unintended pregnancy, the transmission of HIV and other STIs,” said Lino. “[We need to] facilitate access to care particularly for adolescents and young people.”