Helping youth make healthy choices

12 May 2016
Rwandan school children will receive comprehensive sexuality education to empower them to make healthy choices.

Rwanda – Comprehensive sexuality education is vital in curbing cases of unwanted pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases, as it ensures that young people are equipped with the competencies they need to make safe and responsible choices about their sexual and reproductive health.

This point was noted by Jozef Maeriën, the United Nations Population Fund, UNFPA Representative for Rwanda, at the official launch of a teacher training programme geared towards equipping teachers and partners in the education sector on key features of the new curriculum and learner-centered teaching methodologies.

The three-day training also aimed at providing deans of studies from 1,508 secondary schools from 30 districts with an overview of the importance of comprehensive sexuality education.

Deans of schools at the launch of the teacher training programme.
© UNFPA Rwanda

The Ministry of Education, through the Rwanda Education Board, embarked on a teacher training plan geared towards equipping teachers and education sector partners on the main features of the new curriculum and on the requirements of learner-centered teaching methodologies.

Taking an holistic approach with CSE

Eight cross-cutting topics have been integrated in the new curriculum, including Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). CSE is integrated in five subjects, two of them at Primary school level (Science and Elementary Technology, and Social Studies) and three at Secondary School level, namely, Biology and Health Sciences, General Studies and Communication Skills including History and Citizenship.

Young people often receive an array of contradictory and confusing messages about sexuality but how we meet this challenge is the greatest opportunity to breaking the trajectory. - Jozef Maeriën, UNFPA Representative for Rwanda

Preparing young people for the transition to adulthood has always been a great challenge, which the new curriculum hopes to address. Comprehensive sexuality education emphasizes a holistic approach to human development and sexuality. It views sexuality within the context of emotional and social development and also promotes human rights, knowledge, as well as skills for prevention of HIV and unwanted pregnancies.

“Young people often receive an array of contradictory and confusing messages about sexuality but how we meet this challenge is the greatest opportunity to breaking the trajectory. This renewed optimism that the introduction of a curriculum that includes sexuality education can help in the nurturing of children into full responsible citizens,” Mr. Maeriën said.

Encouraging parents to address behavioural aspects

Parents are encouraged to address the physical and behavioural aspects so that children are able to make responsible decisions regarding relationships and sexuality.

Janvier Gasana, Director-General of the Rwanda Education Board, said potential partners should embrace the approach of a comprehensive sexuality education and sensitize all partners for successful implementation.

“We need to do everything we can so that young people get the right guidance. With this era of technology, they are so exposed and that’s why a sensitive approach is needed to put them on the right track. However, this needs to be approached well so that the beneficiaries are not pushed in the opposite direction,” he said.

By Maureen Twahirwa