URN.Patience Namanya, the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Coordinator at Ministry of Gender says they are planning to cater for young people aged 10 to 24years and that in addition to involving community leaders, they want to integrate sexuality education in already existing programmes such as the youth livelihood programme that is currently attracting numbers of rural youth. Among the key areas of study for older children is equipping them with parenting skills.
Rights activists have asked government to quickly provide uniform guidance on sexuality to young people who are out of school.
Allan Nsubuga, an official from Civil Society Organization Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) told URN in an interview that while young people in school may get hints on sexuality through their science subjects or senior women teachers, there’s no guide whatsoever for their age mates that don’t go to school.
The bigger danger in this he says, while the government cannot answer the question of who is currently providing sexuality education to these groups, individuals and groups in communities including some NGOs are providing information that hasn’t been necessarily sieved for appropriateness.
He says no one knows if they are doing the right thing and yet coming out clear on what proper sexuality education ought to be would save the country from the crisis of teenage pregnancies that effects of the COVID-19 pandemic just made worse and the high prevalence of HIV among adolescent girls and young women.
For Nsubuga, if they are to reach many and achieve their target, the government has to carefully select how the information will be delivered considering the dynamics of access including challenges of internet connectivity and reading abilities.
According to the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development that is spearheading this initiative, they are already in plans to train key community leaders including Local Council leaders who will, in turn, be in charge of delivering sexuality education.
Patience Namanya the Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights Coordinator at Ministry of Gender says to guarantee that they will deliver an inclusive guiding framework they have since 2018 been engaging different groups including cultural leaders, religious leaders, and health workers among others to brainstorm on what will most address the needs of young people.
Namanya says they are planning to cater for young people aged 10 to 24 years and that in addition to involving community leaders, they want to integrate sexuality education in already existing programmes such as the youth livelihood programme that is currently attracting numbers of rural youth. Among the key areas of study for older children is equipping them with parenting skills.
However, while this is being drafted, teaching sexuality education in schools is still controversial even as a guiding framework was launched by First lady and Education Minister Janet Museveni way back in 2018. This was vehemently opposed by religious leaders citing exposure of very young children to inappropriate sexual materials.
Earlier this year though, the High Court ordered the Ministry of Education and Sports to set up a comprehensive Sexuality Education Policy giving the entity two years to have implemented this.
In her ruling, Justice Lydia Mugambe said that it is the duty of the state to provide adolescents with accurate information on how to protect their health and development.
During this case, Education Ministry Officials swore affidavits stating that government recognized sexuality education but not comprehensive sexuality education.
According to Ismail Mulindwa who was the acting commissioner in charge of private schools then, some of the content taught as part of sexuality education raised concerns of liberalizing sex among children. He said the ministry banned the teaching of sexuality education because it would lead to the promotion of illicit sexual conduct such as homosexuality and masturbation in schools.
For non-school going young people now, activists say their special framework should tackle such issues of sex work as these are realities in the community with clear guidance on the health implications associated.
At the Uganda AIDS Commission, Dr. Daniel Byamukama who heads HIV Prevention says while prevalence in generally high in young girls, when they break down the data, more of those out of school are affected. He says giving them accurate and uniform information could slow down the rate at which they are getting infected.