The Ghana Education Service (GES) will, from next term, introduce sex education into the curriculum of basic schools to equip pupils to know and experience their sexuality.
At age six, Primary One pupils will be introduced to values and societal norms and how to interact with the different sexes and groups.
As the pupils graduate to the upper primary, they will be made to study different modules of sexuality that include relationship, friendship, dating and courtship.
The guideline module for 11-year-olds in Primary Six includes fertility, pregnancy-related issues, childbirth and respecting gender differences.
This is part of the Guidelines for the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) that is expected to integrate gender, human values and sexual and reproductive health rights perspectives into sexuality education in Ghana.
The Executive Director of the National Population Council, one of the promoters of the curriculum, Dr Leticia Adelaide Appiah, said in an interview that the focus of the CSE was to empower children to make the right choices when parents, religious leaders fail to play their roles.
Giving an alarming statistics to buttress her point, Dr Appiah said teenage pregnancy was high in the country and that in every 1,000 adolescents, there were record cases of 140 teenage pregnancies.
“It is 16 in 1000 adolescents in the developed countries, in China it is seven in 1000. These should guide what we do or don’t do,” she said.
“This will provide an opportunity for young people to develop and understand their values, attitudes, and insights about sexuality.
“It will also help young people develop relationships and interpersonal skills and take responsibility for sexual and reproductive health and well-being,” she said.
The National Population Council said society had the responsibility to prepare the youth with enough education that gave them the tools they needed to make healthy decisions.
Already, parts of the CSI guideline modules are studied in the junior and senior high schools as part of the core and elective subjects. However, the guideline has spelt out separate and different modules to be compulsorily studied for senior high schools.
According to Dr Appiah, for sex education to be comprehensive, it should cover a broad range of issues relating to the physical, biological, emotional and social aspects of sexuality.
“The rationale is that at this stage of their development, what young people need in sexual and reproductive health and rights education are topics on the development of positive attitude, orientation and skills which they will need now and in the future,” she said.
Anti LGBT campaigners
Already, some anti-Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender (LGBT) campaigners have criticised the introduction of CSE in public schools, saying it will replace advocacy for abstinence with sex participation at any age, if one so desires.
They fear that schools in the country are no longer safe for the schoolchildren, as the LGBT campaigners are taking control of what is taught in the classroom.
But the Head of the National Population Council, who is also a medical doctor, said investments in adolescent health and well-being brought a triple dividend of benefits now into future adult life, and for the next generation of children.
The guidelines consist of 59 topics which have been grouped into nine modules. The modular approach was informed by aspects of the principles of curriculum development, namely, appropriateness, matching and logical grouping.
It takes into consideration the concepts of sequencing, with each successive experience building on preceding issues with the intention of deepening knowledge and skills and continuity.
The sexual education programme is offered to primary and junior high school pupils aged 4-14 years. The approach has ensured that there is a uniform set of topics for all in-school pupils in the country.