Last Friday, May 16, 2014, the “Daily Newswatch” newspaper published a report entitled “Expunge sex education from curriculum in Nigeria – UN”. The opening lines of the report are as follows:
“The United Nations (UN) has called on the Federal Government (of Nigeria) to remove sex education from the academic curriculum and replace it with another subject that teaches morality. This, the UN believes, will by extension curtail or eradicate moral decadence in the country.”
The report was cheery in the sense that sex(uality) education has recently been introduced into our school curriculum. This was informed by the tendency of our policy makers to embrace virtually everything suggested by the West, with the notable exemption of the same-sex marriage which Nigerians almost unanimously resisted. There is this pervasive mentality in Nigeria that anything coming from the foreigners, including counterfeit degrees by bogus institutions, is good for us.
It is this type of mentality that made our authorities to make sex education compulsory for all pupils of our schools at a time that religious education became undermined. Our policy makers, through the new curriculum, simply want to let our children know more about sex and sexuality but less about religion and morality.
It was due to that development that some prominent Nigerians, last year, demanded that “all Nigerian children must be availed full opportunities to receive religious instruction and training until at least the end of Senior Secondary School. The new curriculum which relegates Islamic Studies/ Christian Religious Studies (IS/ CRS) to a part of a subject (up to Junior Secondary School) and which made the subjects optional at the Senior Secondary level should be reversed so that the two are made independent, core and compulsory up to the Senior Secondary level.”No one listened.
However, quoting an expert and Lecturer/ Consultant at the University of Lagos, Dr Franca Attoh, the author of the news report under reference further stated, “The onus of the matter is now upon us to ensure that sex education is completely removed from our academic curriculum so that our children would begin to receive the kind of education that will enable us build a strong nation.” She declared that teaching teenagers sex education is “unpatriotic” and that “it wanes societal value”.
The submission of the lecturer would be appreciated if one considers what is going on in the society. As Ogochukwu Ejinkeonye mentioned in his article, “Teaching immorality in schools”, published by www.saharareporters.com on May 6, 2013, the Teacher’s Guide given to the teachers of sex education requires them to do what would make many parents cringe in utter disbelief.
Specifically, teachers are mandated “to teach the children that religious teachings on issues like pre-marital sex, contraception, homosexuality, abortion and gender relations are mere opinions and myths! They are also to teach the students how to masturbate and use chemical contraceptive (designed for women in their 30s). The Teacher’s Guide equally lays a good emphasis on values clarification, this empowers teenage children to decide which moral values to choose since the ones parents teach them at home are mere options.”
Teaching teenagers about sex can only promote illicit and casual sex as young people are known to be curious and adventurous. There are enough problems Nigeria is facing and teaching sexuality or sex education in school can only aggravate them as we see in student prostitution. The same method through which our current leaders received their own sex education is still there if parents, the first teachers, are only conscious of their duties.
In order to achieve a peaceful and progressive society, our leaders and policy makers should behave like the proverbial adult who stumbles and looks backward, not like the child that looks forward. Like children, in our race to development, we seem to look forward only to the developed countries, their values and foibles alike, because we want to attain their level. However, we are quick to forget to look backward to seek solution in our traditional values and systems.
As the United Nations says no to sex education in Nigeria as reported in the opening paragraph above, it is important that we do the needful urgently: expunge sex education from our curriculum. We are reminded that on March 24, this year, through the “58 session of the UN’s document”, that reproductive health has been “removed”, according to the report, “because what we need in our society is sexuality education and not reproductive education”.
Sexuality education itself is uncalled for in the classroom as its irrelevance derives from its conceptualisation. Still quoting from the report under reference, sexuality education “implies that a child, either boy or girl should be told about the difference between male and female; necessary information on the implication of sexual activities at underage” while sex education involves “teachings on how to prevent pregnant or abortion” (sic).
It is the teachers who routinely abuse female pupils as often reported in the media these days that would be telling children “the difference between male and female”? We should look backward and determine those who provided us “necessary information on the implication” of early sexual activities. This is the role of the family and this is why as either sex education or sexuality education, our classroom should be spared such banality.