Teachers train on implementation of the sex education curriculum

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Teachers attend the training on sex education in Kigali last week. / Francis Byaruhanga

In a bid to reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among students, teachers have been trained on the implementation of the sex education curriculum in schools.

Among the aspects they were trained on was to talk openly about human sexuality, sexual anatomy and physiology, reproduction, contraception, pregnancy and childbirth, as well as HIV and AIDS.

Other topics covered included family life and interpersonal relationships; culture and sexuality, human rights empowerment, non-discrimination, equality and gender roles, sexual behaviour, sexual diversity and gender-based violence.

Christian Garuka, a human rights lawyer and legal advisor of the Health Development Initiative Rwanda who was the facilitator in the three-day workshop held in Kigali recently, said teachers need to carry out sex education in order to offer students a chance to explore values, attitudes and norms in relation to sexual behaviour and health.

He emphasised that sex education will help students with knowledge and skills in decision-making, gender equality and human rights.

Garuka said sexual education will encourage students to assume responsibility for their own behaviour as well as behaviour towards other people through respect, acceptance, tolerance and empathy for all regardless of their health status or sexual orientation.

“Sexuality education will also help them to resist early, unwanted or coerced sex and rejecting violence in relationships. It will promote safer sex practices such as the correct and consistent use of condoms and contraceptives,” said Garuka.

According to Toni Martirez, public relations officer at Health Development Initiative Rwanda, the training aimed at explaining misconceptions and myths about sexual reproductive health, especially among students.

Challenges in the implementation of sex education

Isaac Ntirampa, a biology and chemistry teacher at College George Fox located in Kicukiro District, says they meet a challenge of lack of paraphernalia to teach sex education and lack of openness on the part of students on sex-related topics.

“Students are reluctant to engage in open discussions about sex since they’ve been raised to believe that matters of sex are too secretive and sensitive to be discussed openly,” she says.

Beatha Uwambaza, the director of studies at Groupe Scolaire Gasogi in Kigali, says the other challenge is that some young girls feel stigmatised during their menstrual periods and miss classes instead of talking to their teachers.

Adoption of the new curriculum

The competency-based curriculum launched in Rwanda in April, 2015, provides that comprehensive sexuality education should include topics such as sexual and reproductive health, human growth and development, communication, relationships, gender, prevention of STIs, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies and gender-based violence, among others. Most of these aspects were not in the national curriculum of sex education previously.

The Government integrated sexuality education in various subjects, namely; social studies (primary school level); biology (secondary school level); religion (secondary school level); and history and citizenship (secondary school level).