Parents’ initiative to educate youth on sexual reproductive health

Parents trained on sexual reproductive health education awarded certificates. / Michel Nkurunziza

About 2,500 parents, mostly women, have been equipped with skills that will enable them to educate their children on sexual reproductive health.

They were trained by African Evangelistic Enterprise Rwanda in partnership with Gasabo District and the Ministry of Health, and activities started last year.

Distant relationship between parents and children, especially adolescents, and poor to no discussion on sexual reproductive health has always been blamed for early pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases among teenagers.

Figures show that last year, there were over 19,000 teen mothers across the country.

World Health Organisation indicates that in eastern and southern Africa, three quarters of all new HIV infections among adolescents aged 10 to 19 are among adolescent girls.

It is estimated that worldwide, only three in 10 adolescent girls and young women between the ages of 15 and 24 have comprehensive and correct knowledge about HIV.

Adolescents are vulnerable to teenage pregnancies and HIV considering their sexual behaviour at that age.

This means parents should play their role in controlling such behaviours.

Clemence Bantegeye is one of the mothers who were trained on sexual reproductive health education and fighting HIV/AIDS.

“We are committed to becoming model parents in terms of educating our children about sexual reproductive health so that they understand well the changes in their body during the adolescent stage, how they should control sexual behaviours and the consequences if they are enticed by men into sexual intercourse. Many do it because they never received advice before,” she said.

She said that before the training she thought talking to children about sexual reproductive health was not normal.

“But we have to step up and enlighten them on the bad impact from having sex, especially unprotected sex. Some girls are led into bad behaviour and they end up becoming sex workers, teen mothers and sometimes may get sexually transmitted diseases,” she said.

Many end up like this because they do not have knowledge about sexual reproductive health. We have to strengthen such education, starting in our families, with our children, neighbours’ children and the entire community through different forums.

The parents have formed over 44 savings groups as a platform of reinforcing the education programme, according to Marie Rose Uwababyeyi, the project coordinator.

Hoziana Uwase, currently 23, was a teen mother and she said adolescents without control on sexual behaviour face many problems. 

“Parents are always busy and they do not remember that sexual reproductive health education is something important, yet children acquire false information from colleagues or adults trying to lure them into sexual intercourse,” she said.

She dropped out of school due to early pregnancy but she has now been trained in culinary arts and hairdressing and does so for a living.

“I have also been trained on sexual reproductive health. I advise other girls to be careful and use condoms as a last resort,” she added.