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‘COVID-19 Negatively Impacts Comprehensive Sexuality Education’

The COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected sexual education among adolescents as parents fail to take up the responsibility from teachers, a youth organisation has lamented.

Dot Youth, a youth-led organisation that supports young people through economic strengthening initiatives, gender-based violence support services and sexual and reproductive health interventions, made the remarks at the launch of its #NormaliseIt campaign which seeks to promote conversations around Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).

CSE is “a life-long process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs and values about identity, relationships and intimacy.”

“COVID-19 has complicated this issue. It is difficult for parents to provide CSE to children. How are parents explaining issues of menstrual health to children?” bemoaned Dot Youth Zimbabwe director Sibusiso Bhebhe.

He said CSE is usually taught in schools but due to the coronavirus pandemic, children were out of school for six or more months. Because of our cultures, for instance, it is difficult for a father to have a discussion with his daughter about menstruation or sex, which is a part of CSE, Bhebhe noted.

In Zimbabwe, comprehensive sexuality education is provided in schools as Life Skills, Sexuality, HIV and AIDS. The government through the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education aims to prepare learners for life and work by ensuring that they are equipped with requisite knowledge, skills and attitudes.

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Bhebhe said Dot Youth aims to align and standardise CSE so that there is consistent information at school and at home: “I go to school. During Guidance and Counselling we are taught about relationships, HIV and issues around prevention of HIV. Then they come home and the messaging is not consistent with what is being taught [at school].”

He highlighted that many factors negatively affect the consistence of CSE messaging, like religion and cultural beliefs.

He stated: “If we are coming from the church, let’s get to the same table and you contribute the values that you want to promulgate amongst young people.”

The #NormaliseIt campaign is being run in collaboration with organisations like My Age Zimbabwe, Katswe Sistahood and Youth Engage.


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