With the controversy the inclusion of Sexuality Education in the schoolsâ€™ curriculum is generating, concerned parents and other stakeholders have said it should not be imposed on school children without parental consent. They described the act as criminal saying that it is capable of corrupting the minds of innocent children. Funmi Ogundare reports
Sexuality Education is instruction on issues relating to human sexuality, including emotional relations and responsibilities, human sexual anatomy, sexual activity, sexual reproduction, age of consent, reproductive health, reproductive rights, safe sex, birth control and sexual abstinence.
However, its inclusion in schoolâ€™s curriculum by the Ministry of Education (MOE) has continued to generate so much controversy among parents and other stakeholders who have expressed concern that the move has brought about more sex abuse and promiscuity than before.
On its website, the ministry explained that sexuality education would help students understands the physiological, social and emotional changes they experience as they mature, develop healthy and rewarding relations, as well as make wise, informed and responsible decisions on sexuality matters.
According to the website, â€œsexuality education covers the following dimensions of a personâ€™s sexuality; physical sexual maturation and intimacy, the physiology of sex and human reproduction; emotional sexual attitudes and feelings towards self and others; social sexual norms and behaviour and their legal, cultural and societal implications; as well as ethical values and moral systems related to sexuality.
â€œIssues of sexuality would involve value judgments. Parents as the primary care-givers, are responsible for the health and moral values of their children. Hence, parents may choose to opt their children out of a schoolâ€™s sexuality education programme, talks and workshops. Parents may refer to the roles of stakeholders webpage for more information on the role of parents in the sexuality education of their children.â€
On the need for sexuality education, the ministry affirmed that it has become imperative since the children and youth grow up in a rapidly changing world where globalisation and technological advancements expose them to wide range of influences around the world.
â€œThey need to acquire the knowledge, skills , values and attitudes which will allow them to develop healthy and responsible decisions. While parents play primary role, schools have a complimentary role in providing sexuality education as part of a wholistic education.
â€œWith accurate, current and age-appropriate knowledge, and social and emotional skills, our children and youth will be equipped to protect themselves from sexual advances and abuse, and avoid sexual experimentation and activities that lead to problems related to teenage pregnancies and STIs/HIV, â€It noted.
However, this may not have gone down well among some sections of the society who felt that its introduction into some subjects such as social studies, sciences, verbal reasoning and even English language, especially for children in the primary and secondary schools, will contribute to the sexualisation of the children.
A Lagos-based legal practitioner who does not want his want his name in print, expressed concern about some of the contents of the textbooks used by children in their schools saying that itâ€™s a departure from the recommended text obtained in the past.
â€œThe world has changed. We now live in a perverse world that lays claim to the soul of your children. Most of the English Literature books read in your days have been removed from the curricular and replaced with sex-related textbooks. These textbooks and English literature books containing lewd subject matters have been introduced into the curricular to give the unsuspecting young school pupils the wrong impression that self control is unnecessary, repressive and an impossibility; that casual sex makes one feel good; that they should engage in casual sex before marriage; that â€˜safe sexâ€™ is what to aim for in life provided that they donâ€™t get pregnant . And if they do get pregnant, they should procure abortion as soon as possible, â€ he stressed.
He also regretted the rot in the countryâ€™s primary and secondary schools, while describing the federal ministry of education and other education regulatory and supervisory bodies as irresponsible .
â€œWhen Dr. Obigaeli Ezekwesili was the Education Minister, she attempted to cleanse the rot, with her exception, no other education minister in recent times has done anything to resuscitate our comatose public schools. That explains why the primary and secondary school curricular in Nigeria have consistently been corrupted to include textbooks that contain lewd matters and other matters that appeal to the prurient interest in sex.â€
He recalled when some concerned Lagos parents brought a law suit against the state ministry of education and others at the federal high court, 15 years ago over the corruption of Integrated Science to include lewd matters such as masturbation, wearing of condoms, teen contraceptives, among others.
The legal practitioner said, â€œthree years ago, a Lagos-based NGO sued the federal ministry of education and others because the new School Chemistry for Senior Secondary, Modern Biology for Senior Secondary School and the New School were smeared with lewd inscriptions. There is also another book titled: Zumji and Uchenna allegedly used in Lagos schools which contained lurid sex stories and pictures aimed at making secondary school pupils sexually active.â€
He recalled the actions of some students of Ireti Senior Grammar School and Falomo Senior High School who were alleged to have participated in the ignoble harassment and molestation of their female colleagues, saying that, that is what one gets when â€˜safe sexâ€™ is advertised.
â€œThe issue is very disturbing and what they are doing is to corrupt the minds of the children.â€
Despite work pressure, he said parents must be vigilant to ensure that the school is not sexualizing their children all in the name of sex education, adding that the best sexuality education is the one taught by their parents at home.
â€œThe sex education taught in schools is the biological sex education that only focuses on the examination of body parts and genitals that ultimately ends up sexualizing the children. No school has a right to corrupt the morals of your children under the guise of any sex education, Teen â€˜safe-sexâ€™ is abhorred in virtually all Nigerian cultures and above all, promotion of teen â€˜safe-sexâ€™ in schools is unconstitutional in Nigeria.â€
Another Lagos-based lawyer, Mr. Ahmed Akanbi recalled how a few months back when his 11-year old daughter had brought to his attention the contents of two books which they were asked to read and summarise in school.
He said she found some portions of the book rather lewd and vulgar as it gave vivid descriptions of rape and sexual violence which she found really offensive. â€œShe felt that the books were not appropriate for pupils of her age. Hence her decision to bring it to my knowledge. I immediately got hold of the books and wrote to the federal ministry of education as well as the FCT Ministry. But as I speak I am yet to get a response. This is well over six months or thereabout. It is needful to note that the books in question are being used by JSS one and Primary six pupils all over Nigeria.â€
Aside from the issues raised, Akanbi who is dragging the school for corrupting his 9- year old to court, observed that the books are written in poor language hardly befitting of literature that should be used in schools.
â€œOne thing of note is that sound literature books written by the likes of Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, among other, have gradually been phased out of school curriculum. It appears to me that most of the books that are now being recommended were approved by educational authorities through back door dealings.
â€œI dare say that those books have not witnessed the scrutiny of genuine educational experts. I canâ€™t begin to imagine, the number of Nigerian children who would have equally found the contents of these books offensive. That’s why parents must develop close rapport with their children and encourage them to speak up on issues that bother them.
The Public Relations Officer, Lagos State Ministry of Education, Mr. Segun Ogundeji told THISDAY in a telephone conversation that the books that it reviewed are not in the category of those that contained the lewd material, adding that nobody can accuse the ministry of including such in the books used by the children.
A representative of Association of Concerned Mothers, Mrs. Chinelo Ujubuonu who has been leading the parentsâ€™ campaign against sex education in primary and secondary schools in the country, recalled a conversation she had with a mother urging her to check her daughterâ€™s English notebook saying, â€œmy friend also a parent put the issue up in the parentsâ€™ forum after I asked her to go through her daughterâ€™s note. The administration ignored her posts and questions some other parents were asking, until a parent got angry and alerted the ministry of education.
â€œA letter was written to the particular school that was teaching the children sexuality education and a teacher was summoned. The teacher has been relieved of his duty and his license taken. The school is trying to cleanse the children right now as we speak. Pictures were sent to the parent Whatsapp group of a pastor praying and advising the SS one classes that were affected.â€
A parent, Mrs. Biodun Ozurumba, expressed concern that there is more sex abuse now than before, adding that teachers even experiment on students right in their offices.
â€œIt’s a big topic for truthful discussions at all levels, the home being the first school! Fear of God and man is the beginning of wisdom to sexual activities.â€
Another parent, Mrs. Vivian Ejikeme agrees with Ozurumba saying that the teaching should be done at home at the parents discretion.
â€œThe world today is worse off because some unscrupulous elements decided to use sexuality education as an excuse to start corrupting kids the world over. What sort of utter confusion is this? A child can choose what gender he is today, tomorrow or the day after? Or decide to do a gender transplant with state funding without parental consent? In my opinion, itâ€™s all a bunch of people with lots to hide and crazy ideologies experimenting on kids.
â€œ Worse still, they are preparing the next generation for catastrophe by this kind of immersive teachings, in just a few years time, kids may not be able to differentiate between right and wrong, white or black because there will be too many shades of grey.â€
Mrs. Ejiro Nwamadi agrees with the scripture that says, â€˜Train up a child in the way he should goâ€™ and he will not depart from itâ€™, but asks, â€œthe challenge will be, how many parents are actually training? It is well, God help us in Jesus name.â€
Mr. Alex Ajayi recalled how his sister was invited to a â€˜Mother and Childâ€™ forum in the US, saying, â€œ when she got there what she expected will be the discussion was not, rather they were discussing the sexuality of three month old babies and how masturbation should be encouraged. Parents want to train their children, but how many are willing or know exactly what to do?â€
A teacher, Mr. Adebayo Idowu affirmed that Sexuality Education is not based on teaching practical sex except for a class that teaches the proper way to use condoms which they won’t teach in Nigerian secondary school curriculum (abstinence is propagated), but the curriculum deals with developing skills that help them say NO or delay.
â€œThe reason why things seem worse nowadays is because this generation is trying to teach what we don’t have the skills and experience for. Imagine telling your 10 year old daughter that she will get pregnant if a man touches her and you go to sleep thinking it’s fine! She will touch first and if you are lucky, she will give you the report. I will suggest we pray as much as we train because many are untrained in this evil times, â€ he stressed.