Ghana develops guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education

BY: Augustina Tawiah
 A facilitator making a presentation at the workshop
A facilitator making a presentation at the workshop

A national document that seeks to ensure that young people receive a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education has been developed for schools and civil society organisations (CSOs).

Known as "Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Ghana", the document is the first to be developed in the country.

It is age specific and seeks to guide both teachers and CSOs on the type of sexual health education information they can give to young people (both in and out of school) at specific stages of their development.

According to the guidelines, children in junior high school (between the ages of 12 to 14 years) are expected to be taken through topics including alcohol, drug and substance abuses.

For out of schoolchildren between the ages of 10 to 14, they are supposed to receive CSE information on topics such as knowing about one's body, sexual and reproductive organs, friendships, dating and courtship as well as religion and social values.

Details

Providing details on the content of the guidelines at a workshop organised in Accra by the United nations Population Fund (UNFPA) for CSOs, Mr Aaron Adarkwah of the Ghana Education Service School Health Programme (GES-SHEP) said the guidelines provided the age at which young people, both in and out of school, could start receiving comprehensive sexual and reproductive health education.

For children in school, he said the guidelines indicated that they could start receiving CSE information from age four and then end at 17 after they complete SHS.

For those that are out of school, CSE should start at age six and end at 24.

With the guidelines, it means that no teacher or CSO can go to schools or communities and teach young people CSE without reference to the age of the targeted group and the appropriate topic to teach.

Implementation

Explaining how the guidelines would be implemented, the National Programme Analyst on Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health at the UNFPA, Ms Adjoa Yenyi, said the topics in the guidelines had been integrated into the various subjects in the schools and, therefore, teachers would have to make reference to what they say on the topic in their textbooks.

She said about 600 teachers were expected to undergo orientation on the guidelines this month, adding that teachers could start using the guidelines so far as they had them.

Ms Yenyi said in the past because there were no national guidelines on sexual and reproductive health education, everybody seemed to be doing what they thought was suitable.

"These guidelines will ensure that whether you are a child in or out of school in the community, you receive the same kind of information, taking into consideration your age.

We want to ensure that no matter where you are in the country as a young person, the information you receive would be guided by certain rules and regulations," she explained.

She explained that the essence of the guidelines was to ensure that each child received basic information about their sexual and reproductive health that would help them to make informed choices.

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