KAMPALA – The Ministry of Education is set on a collision course with the Catholic, Anglican and Orthodox establishments in the country after officials went ahead to launch the adolescent health and sexuality education in schools to equip students with information to sexual related content, without the approval of the church.
The development comes nearly a month after the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC) the assembly of Catholic Bishops in the country vowed to block the programme in all their schools unless the government made changes in the new policy.
In June, the Catholic Bishops after their plenary released criticizing aspects of the policy, that contradicted Christian values.
Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama, signing off the statement on behalf of the Catholic Bishops slammed the policy saying it despite the Catholic Church experts having made suggestions to developing the curriculum, the final edition of the document “substantially ignored” the Catholic Church views.
The Catholics bishops also questioned the wisdom of the officials decision to roll out the policy when there is no guarantee that school teachers are prepared and able to teach such “delicate and emotionally charged topics “in a balanced and proper way.
“Contrary to what many people think, the Church is in favour of a positive, age appropriate, culturally and religious sex education which upholds moral and Christian values because this task is a shared responsibility of the family, church and state through schools but unfortunately, in the published edition of the document, the contributions of the catholic experts have been substantially ignored,” read part of the UEC statement signed by the chairperson, John Baptist Odama.
Archbishop Odama added that while the National Sexuality Education Framework contains some valid ideas and guidelines, it fails to answer some crucial questions such as the vital role of the family especially in the early ages and why children in the early years between 3 to 5 and those in lower primary (P1 to P4) are exposed to content and life skills which are not appropriate for their ages.
At the inaugural sex education session at Kololo Senior Secondary School on Friday last week, Mr Henry Ssemakula, the officer-in-charge of counseling and guidance at the Ministry of Education, told journalists that some of the core objectives of introducing sexuality education in schools is to show the students how habits such as drug and alcohol abuse can lead to school dropout, early pregnancies, prostitution and acquiring HIV/Aids.
The Ministry of Health claimed the policy document is sensitive to all social aspects and age appropriate therefore, “it was not bound to attract opposition from religious, cultural and political institutions because it had been drafted over a period of two years, through consultations with all relevant stakeholders.”