Many parents still shy away from talking to their children about sexual and reproductive health (SRH), Esperance Nyirasafari, the minister for gender and family promotion, has said.
Nyirasafari warned parents that overlooking the issue leaves youth open to distorted information.
Speaking in Gisagara District on Thursday, the minister said ignorance about reproductive health is partly responsible for unwanted and unprotected sexual experiences, and sexually transmitted infections.
She was addressing Gisagara youth from five secondary schools, educators, and district officials who concluded a three-month training on reproductive health with a particular focus on family planning for the youth.
The initiative was organised by International Youth Alliance for Family Planning (IYAFP) Rwanda.
“Youth’s early development depends on the involvement of all society educators as they have the power to guide children’s development toward healthy sexuality as a natural, normal, and progressive experience within the life cycle,” she said.
“Educators should teach youth about reproductive health daily, especially those who didn’t get a chance to go to school.”
A 2016 report by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion indicates that youth aged 16-19, equivalent to 17,500, carried unwanted pregnancies.
Immaculate Furaha, a peer educator at Kinteko Secondary School, said educators still need sufficient reproductive health materials to facilitate teaching.
“If youth have sufficient reproductive health education materials at their schools such as guiding books, they will carry them outside to transform society’s false mindsets,” Furaha said.
Clemence Gasengayire, the Gisagara vice-mayor in charge of social affairs, said the youth should be carefully prepared to face the future as the next generation of parents who will contribute to building of society.
Youth speak out
Seventeen-year-old Emelyne Niyoyankunze said the task is not only for educators, but all society leaders as role models who shape young people’s perception of gender roles and influence the choices that youth make about their own sexual behaviour.
Niyoyankunze observed that many schools don’t teach youth about condom use as one of approaches to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.