Reports say that teenage pregnancy in Kenya is on the rise owing to COVID 19. But can we assign fault to the pandemic? The closure of schools has halted all forms of formal education, sex education included. According to the children’s office of Machakos, 200 school girls aged between 10-19 years have fallen pregnant EVERY WEEK in the past five months. Undeniably, this means that many more teenagers are sexually active. If 200 schoolgirls fall pregnant in just one week, imagine how many more are engaging in sexual activities without ‘getting caught’!
It is not just happening in Machakos; the whole country is witnessing this confounding menace.
This time, we can not fault the government and cry our typical ‘Serikali saidia’ song, as is the norm. This new state of affairs has proved that the government has done its share. The Ministry of Education signed a declaration in 2013, committing to scaling up comprehensive rights-based sex education beginning in primary school.
- Sex education has been integrated within the school curriculum and managed under Life Skills Education. Life Skills Education is taught as a subject and incorporates a wide range of issues affecting the students.
- The Ministry of Education launched the office of Guidance And Counselling in schools. In this program, students are trained in all aspects of human development, sex education receiving more sense of urgency.
- Seminars and workshops (with the aid of audiovisuals) conducted sensitize the youth on matters of sexuality, consequences of premarital sex, and rewards of abstinence from the same.
- The ministry also acknowledged and empowered the role of sponsors, such as churches, for spiritual guidance. They aid in imparting religious values and norms of society, addressing mostly the sacredness of sex and respect for human sexuality.
- Teachers have been trained on Human Rights, specifically children’s rights. It aims to sensitize the children about their rights and the rights of others while focusing on matters of sex, different deviations, and their consequences (under the Kenyan Constitution of 2010.)
- Schools have trained peer counselors amongst the students to assist their friends who might be facing challenges. The peer counselors help monitor deviations in relationships and also act as a link between teachers and students.
- Students have scheduled and monitored activities in school. Physical education, games, and other extra-curricular activities ensure that time spent on said events help ‘take the edge off.’
- Schools provide sanitary towels and other essentials to needy students, thus diminishing the necessity for these students to seek alternative providers who expose them to vices like prostitution.
- Well managed time in school has ensured students have less time to engage in atypical activities.
- Authority now lies more with the teachers than with the parents. There are structures of authority in schools and strict consequences of insubordination.
The Culpability Lies with The Parents.
The problem with society is that we have demonized talking about sex, especially to our children. Because we are African, we can not speak about sex candidly. It is a taboo to talk about sex with and around children. Parents have neglected the role of the principal tutor, primary socializing agent and guide to their children. We have left that significant task to anyone else but ourselves. But then again, can we pour from an empty cup? I reckon not.
This change starts with us. Let’s try not to cringe the next time someone speaks about sex. Let us advocate for more sex-related forums for these young ones. Let us empower ourselves. The future of Kenya, as well as that of our youth, is in our hands. We have failed them more than once. It is time for redemption. Children learn everything else from their parents, it is crucial they get sex education from their parents as well.
We celebrated the Day of the African this week. Is there anything to celebrate when the African child is not yet fully empowered?
If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude.- Maya Angelou.
Author: Violet Mwihaki.
Head of Entertainment, Fursa Africa
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