Ministry of Education, Guyana

Monday, 03 April 2017 09:24

Education Ministry, NGOs roll out new programme to tackle risky sexual behaviour in schools

Recognizing the need for a comprehensive reform of the sex education curriculum in schools, the Ministry of Education, backed by several non-governmental organizations has embarked on an initiative aimed at lowering the risks of sexual behaviours among the country’s adolescents.news 20170403

One of the components of the programme involves deploying counselors into approximately 33 schools in Georgetown.
According to Patricia Sheeratan-Bisnauth, head of the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association (GRPA), the sessions in schools are expected to comprehensively tackle about 13 topics.
“The counselors will be talking to the students about controlling their sexuality, sexually transmitted diseases, moral values, personal development, the different types of abuses, including sexual abuse and gender justice and so on,” Sheeratan-Bisnauth said.
She explained that back in 2014, the GRPA approached the Ministry with a proposal to assist authorities in coming up with an all-inclusive strategy to mend the vastly inadequate sex education curriculum being administered in schools across the country.
The stakeholders of the draft strategy are not yet prepared to release it, but have promised that the contents are likely to be quite effective in calming some of the very risky sexual behaviours that Guyana’s youths are engaged in.
In recent times, there have been many reports and videos of students in their uniforms, having sexual intercourse in schools. Many of these have gone viral, and have left dents on the reputation of those involved.
Last year, the GRPA conducted a ‘snap survey’ which focused on sexual trends among the adolescent and youth population in the country. The survey, which was carried out in eight of Guyana’s ten administrative regions, highlighted that more than 50 percent of youths are sexually active.
Some 42 percent of the 392 respondents of the survey were sexually active. They were between the ages of 16 and 18. Worryingly, some 35 percent of them were under the age of consent which is 16. Approximately 53 percent of the surveyed youths were engaging in sexual activity while they were still in school.
The document, which was presented by Social Activist, Sherlina Nageer, highlighted that males were having sexual encounters earlier than their female counterparts.
A very disturbing fact and one that should have been a massive alarm to authorities, is the fact that that some 20 percent of the respondents reported that they were either raped or coerced into sexual activity.
The gathering of students, teachers, parents, media operatives and Health Ministry officials, including then Minister, Dr. George Norton, heard that of 20 percent, 26 percent of them were coerced while they were under the age of 12, while 61 percent of those doing the coercing were over the age of 18.
The survey indicated too, that 30 percent of the respondents received information about sex from their parents and via other means; while a mere nine percent received theirs via the school system.
GRPA had promised during the release of the study almost a year ago, that efforts would commence to conduct a larger study on the issue, and then be used as data to further urge the government to act on the issue.
Only recently, this publication carried an article where Peace and Governance Practitioner, Lawrence Lachmansingh, joined the bandwagon of persons calling for a comprehensive reform of the sex education curriculum in schools across the country.
Even though the education system has adopted the abstinence approach, Guyana’s appallingly high rate of teenage pregnancy is a clear indication that somewhere along the line, something is not working.
As many await the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry being done into the public education system, Lachmansingh is adding his two cents on what needs to be done to remedy the inadequacies.
“Sex education should not just be about the mechanics of sex…my parts and your parts, and how the two parts fit, and what happens when the two parts fit,” Lachmansingh said.
During the most recent Women and Gender Equality Commission forum held at Carifesta Sports Complex, Lachmansingh made the call for the sex education curriculum to be adjusted to cater for “Sex and Relationships.
“…because, the sex is in the context of two persons who care about each other, having a relationship, and how that relationship is nurtured and cultivated so that it can deal with all of the implications of sex.”
GRPA’s Sheeratan-Bisnauth has since lauded the remarks made by Lachmansingh, pointing out the need for more men to get involved in the conversations surrounding not just sex, but safe sex.
Lachmansingh is among many who share the belief that a complete transformation of the sex education programmes in school can be the answer to tackling Guyana’s very high teenage pregnancy and child mortality figures.
“We see today children are making children, and often times their bodies are not ready, and this contributes to our child mortality figures,” Lachmansingh pointed out.
Closely behind Dominica, Guyana has the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean, with the Greater Georgetown community of Sophia leading the country’s figures.

Source:http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/

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