Lesotho: Demystify sexual education in secondary schools

Lesotho: Demystify sexual education in secondary schools


Date: May 6, 2019
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The Government of Lesotho, through the Ministry Of Education and Training (MOET) is a signatory to the SADC Comprehensive Education Policy. In its effort to adopt the principles of this policy, MOET introduced Life Skills education in the curriculum at both primary and secondary schools levels.

In addition, a new textbook has been introduced to secondary schools in Grade 8. The advocates of the textbook, believe that its provisions that encourage teaching of body parts using mother tongue will demystify sex and sexual education among Basotho learners (The Post, 29 March, 2019)

Context

has the second highest HIV prevalence in the world at 25% (Kingdom of Lesotho 2014). This situation is worrying because before 2014 Health Survey, Lesotho’s HIV prevalence was 23%.

In 2012, Lesotho developed the 2012 Education Sector HIV and AIDS Policy with the aim of using schools to combat HIV and other sexually related illnesses. The government believed that because education is considered a vaccine for many societal ills, it will go a long way in ensuring that HIV is brought under control (Kingdom of Lesotho, 2012). However, the education policy on HIV was never implemented, thus leaving students, teachers and communities still vulnerable to the epidemic (Rakolobe, 2017).

Conversely, a turn of events saw the implementation of Comprehensive Sexual Education. The highlight of Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in Lesotho came with the introduction of the newly introduced Curriculum and Assessment Policy of 2009 in Lesotho schools.

In this respect Lesotho has introduced an advanced level of Life Skills syllabus to comply with the SADC provisions of CSE. The new syllabus is accompanied by a textbook that among others breaks the Sesotho cultural norms as it encourages learning of some aspects related to sex and sexuality using mother tongue.

Activities 

From the 4th-5th August 2016, the SADC Parliamentary Forum through the SRHR, HIV and AIDS and Governance Project held a capacity building workshop for Civil Society Organisations in Lesotho (CSOs) working in the area of SRHR and HIV and AIDS in Lesotho, with the intention to map out a strategy for actively engaging the Parliament of Lesotho.

This exercise was a success as it influenced the government of Lesotho through the Ministry of Education to call for the development of relevant textbooks to be used in schools.

The purpose of the new books is to align CSE with the aims articulated in the Curriculum and Assessment Policy, 2009 as it has now been introduced to secondary schools. Some of the aims stipulated in this policy that are important in the implementation of CSE in schools are, “Promotion of understanding and acceptance of high standards of living, social and moral values and awareness of emerging issues and their impact on socio-economic development, “and “developing appreciation and acceptance of national culture and cultural diversity, history, values and norms basic for national unity and development” (Kingdom of Lesotho, 2009).

In addition in October 2014, the Ministry of Education in Lesotho, coordinated an event where, different stakeholders (local authorities, school proprietors, youth, communities, church leaders and others) signed Gatekeepers SRHR statement of commitment. This meeting was followed by the attendance by some personnel in the Ministry to a forum within the SADC region in preparation for the effective implementation of CSE is Lesotho schools. One such forum is the Gatekeepers Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Workshop held in Johannesburg, South Africa from 17 to 20 November 2014 (Molapo, 2014). This sums some of the key activities that Lesotho has embarked on to ensure the effective implementation of the CSE in its schools.

Partners 

The Stakeholders that the government of Lesotho partnered with during the SADC parliament workshop on SRHR include, HIV/AIDS and governance include, WILSA, MATRIX, UNICEF, UNAIDS, Development for Peace Education (DPE), Sentabale and some media houses in the country. The purpose of including these institutions was so that they assist the government in the development of the guidelines for CSE for both formal and non-formal education.

The inclusion of MATRIX (an organisation for LGBTI community) was very important as Lesotho legislation and polices are still silent of the rights of the LGBTI. Their attendance is thus important as it is likely to change the status quo.

Additionally, the government of Lesotho through a collaboration between Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health was very instrumental in ensuring the implementation of CSE. The two Ministries are still working together even now as SRHR issues are a central component to CSE. The personnel from the Ministry of Health are used as resource persons during the teaching of Life skills. This is implemented through inviting to schools and get a chance to teach learners about SRHR related issue in the classroom setting.

Achievements

Textbooks have been disseminated to schools throughout the country. The textbook are accompanied by syllabi and teachers’ guides. The purpose of the teachers’ guide is to assist teachers and guide them on how best to conduct their lessons so that they achieve the goals set in the syllabus. There have also been workshops facilitated with the aim of training teachers on how to effectively implement CSE in their classrooms.

The Ministries of Education and Health also have a pact whereby the Ministry of health visits schools in order to complement the lessons that have been given by teachers. The personnel from the Ministry of Health, being health specialists deal more in-depth with issues related to SRHR and how they can affect the adolescents and their health.

Impact

The importance of CSE in Lesotho schools is that it will in the long run help in demystifying sex and sexual education. Again the level of teenage pregnancy will decrease significantly as adolescents will now comprehend how their bodies work and be knowledgeable about sex related issues.

Correspondingly, the increase in the HIV statistics will be curbed when people are educated on SRHR as they will be able to make informed sexual decisions.

Additionally, the number of illegal abortions that have been reported to be rampant in Lesotho especially in the past year (2018) are likely to decrease due to access to information relating to SRHR that is taught in CSE. This is because in some cases adolescents that get pregnant are not even aware of Adolescent Health Corners found in all public hospitals in Lesotho. Their failure to access services in hospitals will be mitigated by CSE at both formal and non-formal institutions in the country.

 

 


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