Sexuality Education for Youth – Key in Preventing the Spread of HIV in ZambiaShare
Sexuality education and the provision of services for adolescents and young people are at the heart of a recently launched national programme, implemented by the Government of Zambia and supported by UNESCO.
The programme, launched in April 2014, will reach 1,750 000 students, aged between 10 and 24, with a new comprehensive sexuality education curriculum and some 45,000 new and existing teachers will be trained over the next four years. New teaching and learning materials will be developed and schools will also be advised on policies and codes of conduct to reduce current high levels of gender-based violence and HIV-related stigma and discrimination.
“Girls in particular are at high risk of HIV in Zambia because they may not be in a position to negotiate safer sex or don’t know enough about how to prevent the infection from being transmitted. We know from experience that if all learners, male and female, have the right education we can prevent and reduce the number of new infections,” Chris Castle, UNESCO Global Coordinator for HIV and AIDS said.
Plans to give young people easier access to HIV testing and other necessary medical services will also be implemented. The overall goal is for adolescents and young people in Zambia to enjoy better sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on preventing new HIV infections and unintended pregnancies.
Young people in the East and Southern Africa region are highly vulnerable to unintended pregnancies, HIV, sexual abuse, early marriage, HIV and sexually transmitted infections. In Zambia, 28% of girls under the age of 19 have already had at least one child and the HIV prevalence rate is 8.7% among girls aged 15-24 and 4.3% among boys the same age.
Harriet Tembo, aged 15, a student at Kablonga Basic School in Lusaka, Zambia, says she thinks that the new sexuality education curriculum is important for young people: “I think the knowledge which I’m going to receive will help me to stay in school longer and it will also make me focus on my future and help me achieve my dreams.”