Comprehensive Sexuality Education brouhaha in Ghana: Whither did we go?

CSE File Photo File Photo

Tue, 15 Oct 2019 Source: D. C. Kwame Kwakye

What at all is the comprehensive sexuality education about that has created a lot of debate in our country? I know the document is called COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY AND REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH EDUCATION (CSRHE) and not COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION(CSE) as being bandied around.

According to www.actioncanadashr. org, Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) is a curriculum- based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, physical, emotional, and social aspects of sexuality. Its object is to equip children and young people with skills knowledge, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realize their well-being, health and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own well-being and that of others; and, apprehend and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.

Wikipedia explains that Comprehensive sex education (CSE) is a sex education instruction method based on-curriculum that intends to give students the skills attitudes, knowledge, and values to make appropriate and healthy decisions in their sexual lives. The aim is that this understanding will prevent students from contracting sexually transmitted infections in the future, including HIV and HPV.

CSE is also created with the intention of reducing unwanted and unplanned pregnancies, as well as lowering rates of domestic and sexual violence, thus contributing to a healthier society, both physically and mentally. While government was trying to explain CSE, others felt government was trying hard to mesmerize us. Others said government was trying to mix sex education with sexuality education as being the same but different all together. But, from the above definition, comprehensive sex or sexuality education can used interchangeably.

Comprehensive sex education ultimately encourages sexual abstinence as the safest sexual choice for young people. It deals with everything about human existence and development. It deals with aspects of our lives including values, sanitation, climate change hygiene etc, it is culture and its instruction is context specific. What are the problems with it and why alI this unnecessary brouhaha? Does it seek to teach LGBTQ as being propagated? Why the over fixation on LGBTQ? I've gone through the Ghana Education Service (GES) guidelines and there is nothing about gays and lesbians or possibly I didn't see it?

Last Wednesday 9the October, 2019 on Kokrokoo on Peace FM, I listened to Prof. Kofi Awusabo Asare, leading research consultant when it comes to this area of education. He said "there nothing on LGBT either in the curriculum or training manual given to teachers and so very surprised about the kind of intense debate this whole matter has generated". When asked what has caused this? He answered that he feels it is political and also a lot of people making commentaries haven't read the document.

The curriculum is yet to be out so what is the basis for our problem and complaint? COMPREHENSIVE SEXUALITY EDUCATION (CSE) has been taught in our schools in various forms. From 1969 through to 1994 and our 1992 constitution has provided backing and a legal framework for population related issues of which CSE is part.

Reproductive Health(RH) education have been taught since 1972 and was integrated into Hygiene and Civics. From 1972 it was integrated into various subjects including Social Studies and Integrated Science (1972-1987), Life Skills (1987-1998), Population and Family life Education(1997-2004/5) and Integrated Science, Social Studies and Religious and Moral Education (RME) since 2005 (GES guidelines, 2019).

This has been the evolution of our teaching of RH or CSE till date. Comprehensive has now has now been added because certain aspect of sexuality education has been added to the topics to be taught.

Countries in the Scandinavian region have developed because of CSE implementation. In a country like Ghana with its alarming child pregnancy and birth, something need to be done. On the 14th of May this year, the deputy minister of health, Madame Tina Mensah while speaking at the maiden edition of the Marie Stopes Youth Advisory Board Parliament on Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) said among others that “Ghana’s high teenage pregnancy and adolescent child bearing rates which stands at 14.2 percent and 66/1000 adolescents respectively, are a great concern to the government of Ghana". Indeed at the recent inauguration of the National Population in March 2019, the President of the Republic His Excellency Nana Akufo Addo, complained about the high fertility rate among girls who should ordinary be in school and directed the National Population Council to work with all the relevant institutions to drastically reduce teenage pregnancy.

According to a research published on reproductive-health-journal.biomedcentral.com, it states that in 2014, 30% of all child birth were by adolescents, and 14% of that number were aged between 15 and 19 years. In another story published on graphic online, on July 4, 2018 quoted Dr. Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah of the National Population Council (NPC), "that during the time of the Ghana Demographic and Health Survey (GDHS) of 2014, about 4.1 per cent of teenagers in the region were pregnant with their first child and 18 per cent of teenagers had already had a live birth". This statistics is in reference to the Volta region.

We are all Africans and for that matter Ghanaians, very religious and have a sense or morality, we cannot accept what is wrong but what has the church, mosque, synagogues, chieftaincy and all of us been able to do and been doing in relation to pregnancy and it's related problems? Something must be done. Hence CSRHE.

People are arguing that, the devil is in the detail and this whole CSE includes enlightening our children about LGBT rights and inclusion. That, I cannot admit but if that is what is affecting our sensibilities, then we can propose for its removal or expunge the aspect on CSE in any shape or form from the curriculum. Are we saying in today's age and time, we don't need to teach our kids about CSE? For how long can we be pretending all is well? Don't we think that enlightening our kids about CSE would help us as a people? On 30th September, 2019 a story on ghanaweb captioned "CSE is Comprehensive Satanic Engagement – Prof Frimpong- Manso". He is reported to have said all manner of things including an attack on the GES Director General where the President of the Ghana Pentecostal and Charismatic Council (GPCC), Rev. Prof. Paul Frimpong Manso described the GES boss as a "disaster". Couldn't the president of the GPCC have asked the GES boss Prof Kwasi Opoku Amankwa for some explanation before such an unsolicited attack on him?

He further added that "he could not fathom why such a learned professor could not decipher the strategy of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) community to rob the children off their morals". Rev. Prof Frimpong Manso ought to have been a bit circumspect with his public utterances. All those who were thinking like him ought to have granted those in charge of GES, Ministry of Education (MOE), National Council for Curriculum Assessment (NaCCA) and other stakeholders with some modicum of intelligence and "Ghanaianess". We are all Ghanaians first and as such cannot be seen to be speaking as if some are more Ghanaian than others. We sometimes overly criticize ourselves when those doing so are not well informed on the issue.

Recently the President of the Republic of Ghana Nana Addo Danquah Akufo Addo Speaking at the St Cyprians Anglican Church at Kumasi Sunday, said his vision is to promote national development and not immorality. “There have been talks in recent times about me and my government introducing some inappropriate materials into schools. I brought the Free SHS to strengthen our education and so I will not allow any immoral materials to enter our schools".

He went further to add that “I’m a Christian and as long as I sit as President of Ghana, I will not allow anything like that in our schools so I urge you all to be calm because I won’t let that happen" (ghanaweb 2019). Now that the president has spoken, what else would the critics have to say again?

Most of the commentaries I had listened to before our presidents spoke were mostly born out of mischief and others on pure ignorance and propaganda. We can raise issues about some aspects of the content about CSE that we disagree with but cannot call for its total abolition.

We have a nation to build.

D. C. Kwame Kwakye

Broadcast Journalist, GBC, Radio Central

0244 976 550

Columnist: D. C. Kwame Kwakye