To some, sex education is ideal for teenagers. Others think it is immoral. Although, some parents are worried about the way it is taught in schools, teachers feel it will guide children whose early exposure to technology makes them vulnerable, report ADEGUNLE OLUGBAMILA, STELLA EDMUND, JANE CHIJIOKE and AJOSE SEHINDEMI.
How best can Sex and Sexuality Education be taught in schools?
This is the question agitating the minds of many stakeholders since a concerned parent, Bello Abdullahi, posted on his Facebook page a Social Study textbook for junior secondary schools which recommended masturbation as a form of sexual abstinence.
The approved textbook titled: Religion and National Values: Social Studies for Universal Basic Education 7 (JSS1) identifies masturbation as a measure by which teenagers could avoid pre-marital sex.
Page 50 of the said book which outlines Ways to give and receive sexual pleasure and develop closeness without sexual intercourse lso mentions kissing, touching, hugging, mutual masturbation, companionship, sharing inmates thoughts, feelings, sharing fun, sharing sadness and joy as well as supporting each other.
Abdullahis post of the book caught fire online, with parents, guardians and educationists condemning the books position on the matter and describing it as unwholesome and unhealthy for teenagers. They also argued that the books prescribed means of abstinence were immoral.
In response to the post, some parents, under the aegis of the Association of Concerned Mothers, staged an awareness protest in Lagos a fortnight ago.
They claimed it was unfair of the government to have introduced a topic such as Sex and Sexuality Education without due consultation with parents, and called for its holistic appraisal with a view to either abolishing it outright, or deleting aspects considered unhealthy for youngsters.
The convener of the group and popular broadcaster, Mrs. Adesuwa Onyenokwe, warned the government not to treat the issue lightly, saying parents were ready to storm the Office of the Governor in a fierce protest.
In a statement, the body threatened to sue the Lagos State government.
A lawyer and member of the group, Mr. Sonnie Ekwounsi, noted that certain topics taught young minds in public school were not healthy.
They (authorities) are just being inconsiderate, Ekwounsi said.
They want to spoil these children from a tender age under the pretext of teaching them the right thing on sex education. I encourage families to stand up for their rights and rebuke them for such actions, he said.
Another member, Miss Nkem Agboti, told The Nation that the NGO had petitioned the National Assembly that they should remove Sexual Education from the school curriculum, because they see the subject as polluting the minds of young children.
However, Lagos State has since denied the existence of any textbook that encourages immoral activities in its curriculum.
The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Mr. Adesina Odeyemi, stated that though the ministry was aware of the textbook in question, it was not part of books reviewed and approved in the year 2013. He said the government was already collating books from interested publishers for another round of review and approval later in the year.
This book, without prejudice to the intention of the author, and the opinion of its publishers, has not been reviewed, recommended or approved for use in any of the Lagos State public and private secondary schools, Odeyemi said.
In the current secondary school curriculum, Sex Education topics are treated under Social Studies, Civic Education, and Home Economics.
However, not all stakeholders are against the teaching of sex and sexuality education in schools.
A teacher at Rock-Ville College, Ojo, Lagos, Kareem Olanrewaju, noted that though many parents were not comfortable with the topics, it was dangerous to leave teenagers to learn on their own.
The danger is that if we fail to tell them now, they will practise it elsewhere, Olanrewaju warned.
He continued: A female student once came to me and asked how often a woman can meet a man for (sexual) intercourse before she can get pregnant. I advised her to confide in her female teachers but she said they would either make a mockery of her or even think she has been practising that already. I asked her to tell her mother and she said she was a career woman who worked round the clock and hardly lectured her on such issues.
These children know many things we think they do not. Therefore, we need to familiarise them with risks associated with such actions.
Simeon Fowowe, who specialised in Primary Education Studies at the Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education Oto/Ijanikin, said parents needed to realise that the world had changed and children of these days were different from the previous generations.
He recommended simulation as one of the best approach for teachers of Sex Education.
The children we have today are technology-savvy. They watch these things (sex) on social media. What I mean by simulation is that you teach them in such a way that morals are acquired. Show them in practical terms some of those things they watch on social media and television; but let them realise the dangers that await them if they choose to toe that path.
Show them with video illustrations of those who once treaded those paths before and how their lives ended. Let them know that only a few, particularly those who have strong parental support, survive such ordeals and, in many cases, most of them still have regrets, he said.
A teacher in a public school in Festac Town, who pleaded not to be mentioned, believes Sex Education should be encouraged in schools in view of the vulnerability of teenagers to information and communication technology (ICT).
I have about four phones that I have seized from my students. If the principal opens his desk, you will see almost 20 phones that have been seized from students.
There was a particular boy in my class. He kept smuggling phones to school almost every other week; and when you checked the phones, they had pornographic materials. He would tuck the phone in a corner and watch with some of his friends during classes.
Each time we seize their phones, we counsel them on the danger of their actions. Sometimes, we send for their parents before we release the phones.
There was a day we brought in a motivational speaker to counsel them on the dangers of sexual immorality. Since then, this same boy suddenly stopped. We thought he was pretending initially but today this boy has not only stopped sneaking in phones, but he has also begun preaching to his other friends on why watching immoral videos could deter their future.
A parent, Mrs. Odeyemi Aina, said she had always objected to the teaching of Sex Education until her daughters best friend was impregnated by a classmate.
When the news broke, Mrs. Odeyemi recalled, many including myself could not believe Sola (not real name) could do it. She was a disciplined girl and many of her teachers loved her because she was easygoing and hardly talked in class.
Since then I have had to reconsider my position. Now I tell my daughter who is 14 that the sexual parts of her body is a no-go area for any man. I also warned her that if she errs, she would either forfeit her education or cope with tending her baby and going to school at the same time, provided God gives her a second chance.
A school head in Somolu area of Lagos noted that with the direction the world is drifting, primary school pupils should not be exempted from Sexuality Education. However, she warned that the pedagogy should be age appropriate.
She said: Every Monday on the assembly ground, we teach the pupils how to relate with the opposite sex and how the females should not let anybody touch their sexual organs.
We have even gone further by telling parents at our Parents Teachers Association (PTA) meetings to monitor their wards, especially the females. They should notice if they feel discomfort or do not want their parents to touch some of their body parts while bathing. Those are signs that the child is being abused and they should report to the school if anything is noticed, she said.
A parent, Mr Akintunde Olaosebikan, faulted the government for not involving parents enough on issues about sex education.
I do not think government has seen parents as partners in progress when issues of policies and curriculum are discussed.
We only listen or read in newspapers after such ideas must have been perfected. Like this issue of Sex Education, there are so many ideas that we can give them that will be beneficial. Sometimes, we also need to have access to some of these textbooks before the government finally approves them. Do not forget that these students are also our children, and as parents, we either reap the rewards of their success or bear the brunt of their failure.
By – Adegunle Olugbamila, Stella Edmund, Jane Chijioke And Ajose Sehindemi
Source – http://thenationonlineng.net