As State Minister for Higher Education John Chrysostom Muyingo said at the weekend, sex education needs to be drawn out of hiding and given to children. And while the minister seemed to be worried about students indulging in homosexuality and lesbianism, there are many other concerns and consequences when children are not given a sound education on sex.
Although this lack of knowledge is not the sole reason that teenagers find themselves in an unwanted situation, it contributes to the fact. To this day, some students believe that you cannot get pregnant the first time you have sex. Others believe that as long as they are circumcised, they will not get infected with HIV.
Children are being exposed to sex or sexual innuendo everywhere. This happens with the programmes on TV even during the day and early hours of the evening when one would expect the stations to limit indecent materials. They are also exposed to it on radio and online. Children have smartphones fully loaded with the Internet. Their not so privileged counterparts in the rural areas might not have such gadgets but they too are exposed.
Young men often seduce underage girls promising them money and telling them nothing will go wrong. But it does, many times. In a story Daily Monitor published in 2013, the Uganda Bureau of Statistics stated that one in every four teenage girls between 15 and 19 was found pregnant. Also, the Population Secretariat indicated that of the 1.2 million pregnancies recorded in Uganda annually, 25 per cent of those were teenage pregnancies.
Teenage pregnancies come with a host of problems. The girls are not ready to be mothers, both physically and emotionally. For many, there are no finances to take care of themselves and their babies once they are born. Others are too ashamed to be seen pregnant so they avoid going for antenatal services, which is dangerous. Some resort to abortion which may lead to death. Teenage boys become fathers too early; many of them are unable to support their girlfriends through the pregnancy. Others might get infected with HIV.
It goes without saying that for these consequences to be dealt with, the young population must be educated about sex. They must be given age-appropriate information right from a young age because the exposure starts early nowadays.
Mr Muyingo, in his speech on Saturday at Seeta High School, said the Education ministry was expected to unveil a strategy that would involve parents to provide sex education. This should be done sooner than later, or the worrying trends will continue.
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