Primary school pupils in Uganda to be taught dating, courtship

Primary school pupils in Uganda to be taught dating, courtship
A volunteer delivers a sexual health lesson at a primary schools in the small town of Nakalama in eastern Uganda. Courtesy Photo

Primary School pupils will be taught dating and courtship according to the Sexuality Education Framework approved by the Ministry of Education and Sports.

The framework, expected to be unveiled by the Ministry of Education this month, has clustered learners into five groups targeting pre-primary, primary, secondary and tertiary institutions.

The clusters are; early childhood targeting pupils aged between three and five years for pre-primary learners in nursery; lower primary learners aged six and nine years anticipated to be from primary one to four; upper primary learners aged between 10 and 12 years projected to be from primary five to seven; lower secondary learners aged 13 and 16 years expected to from senior senior one to senior four and A-level and tertiary institutions’ cluster targeting students aged 17 years and above.

Muhammad Kasule, the Technical Advisor on HIV/AIDS in the Education Ministry, last month revealed that this framework will be unveiled this month. He described it as “cultural, religious sensitive and age appropriate.” Kasule said the framework has been developed over the last two years through consultations with stakeholders.

Dating and Courtship

It’s in upper primary cluster targeting learners aged 10 to 12 years that dating and courtship topics will be introduced. This cluster targets learners from primary five to primary seven.

Areas to be covered in the upper primary cluster under dating and courtship include; understanding that attraction to the opposite sex is natural; understanding that males and females are attracted by different things, understanding what dating relationships are and why they are not good for pre-teens, the influence of family and religion on the issue of dating, how to resist the pressures that drive pre-teens into dating relationships.

Other area to be covered are; appreciating the importance of open communication with a trusted adult about one’s dating relationships, appreciating the importance of boundary-setting when relating with someone you are attracted to already and where and when to seek help when dealing with hurt about a dating relationship.

Learners in this cluster will also be taught topics such as prevention of pregnancy, the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, abortion and risks associated with it, sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STI/Ds), and sexual abuse and its forms, among other areas.

Under “the importance of antenatal and postnatal care” topic, for instance, learners will be taught the difference between antenatal and postnatal care, extra care that a pregnant woman must take in her health, the health benefits that the baby in the womb gets when the mother is nutritionally healthy as well as where and when antenatal and postnatal care services are offered.

The lower primary cluster for pupils aged five to nine years will cover topics such as love. Areas to be covered under types of love are listed as; different kinds of friends (male or female, boyfriend or girlfriend, good or bad, younger and older), basis of friendship, types of love: agape (love of and for God), philos (friendship love), and storge (love among family members), differentiating love from lust and crush among others. This cluster will also be taught subjects such as preparing for long-term relationships, good versus bad relationships, marriage and family, puberty, body-image and sexuality among others.

Under the topic “preparing for long-term relationships,” pupils will be taught; what the term relationship means and that human beings are relational, appreciating the importance of healthy friendships; what peer-pressure is – its pros and cons, the importance of being open about one’s relationships and appreciating that boys and girls relate differently.

The early childhood cluster for pre-primary pupils aged three to five years will be taught that boys and girls are created with unique “private parts.” They will also be taught unacceptable forms of body-touch by self or other people and private parts” of a child’s body.

The lower secondary, technical and vocational schools cluster targeting pupils aged between 13 and 16 years will be taught topics such as menstrual health and hygiene, prevention of pregnancy, the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, abortion and risks associated with it, and sexually transmitted infections and diseases (STI/Ds) among others.

Under the topic “importance of antenatal and postnatal care,” this cluster will be taught; understanding the demands of being a father or mother while still chronologically young, the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, what the antenatal and postnatal care packages in Uganda entail, why nutrition elements such as iron and folic acid are critical during pregnancy, complications that teenage mothers may face during child-birth and why it is important for a pregnant mother to deliver under the supervision of qualified medical personnel.

The upper secondary and tertiary institutions cluster will also cover topics such as dating and courtship, preparing for long-term relationships, marriage and family, sexual abuse and its forms, the importance of antenatal and postnatal care, and abortion and risks associated with it, among others.

Implementation

The Ministry of Education will be entirely responsible for the implementation of the framework among the in-school youths. Other government ministries, departments and agencies will be called upon to provide a supportive and complementary role as indicated in the framework.

“The National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC) will therefore use the framework as a basis for developing the appropriate curriculum, text books and messages. The Ministry of Education will ensure that the curriculum and syllabus are developed by NCDC in very close collaboration with religious institutions while the tools for monitoring and evaluation are prepared by the standards agency accordingly,” the framework reads.

The ministry will also ensure that the curricula for teacher training institutions including Universities are revised to incorporate this framework.

“Accordingly, the in-service teachers will be sensitised and empowered to deliver the curriculum that will be produced,” it further states.

There won’t be an independent sexuality education subject but the implementation of content will be mainstreamed in the delivery of curricular, extra-curricular and co-curricular activities in and outside the classroom.

URN