The fallacy about sex education – Part 2
The Basic Science & Technology for Junior Secondary School 1, which is meant for children aged between 10 and 12 years (maybe 13 years), states that “safe sex” is a way to care for reproductive organs. Arguably, it could be said that this book is encouraging children to have “safe sex” as a way of caring for their reproductive organs. A review of the table of contents of for this book (Basic Science & Technology for Junior Secondary School 1) reveals that of the 30 weeks of study in the academic year, 11 weeks (more than one-third of the contents of the textbook) is devoted to sex, sexual matters and the reproductive system). I am hard-pressed to understand why we need to spend so much time discussing sex with children whose primary aim at this stage of development is the acquisition of knowledge and virtues to guide their way through life.
One of the topics discussed in the Basic Science & Technology for Junior Secondary School 2 (a book meant for children between the ages of 10 and 14) is abstinence. You would think that abstinence means abstaining from sex – which is what the children need at this age -, but I have news for you. As presented in the textbook, this topic is ambivalent about the moral value of abstinence and does not convey the importance and rationale for abstinence. Given the developmental stage of the children, I would expect (as was my experience when I was in school), that the focus of the education would be to teach the children how to make objective judgment calls about the rightness or wrongness of an action.
Unless the intention of the NERDC and the authors of this textbook is to encourage children to engage in sexual activities, I would expect that the focus of the learning at this stage is to enable the children to cultivate good habits such as delayed gratification, discipline and respect for themselves and others.
Oh and I forgot to mention, that as part of learning unfamiliar words in the English Language subject, they introduce children as young as eight years to the word “masturbation.” Again, I leave it to your imagination to understand why an eight-year-old needs to learn this word.
I could go on but I guess I have said enough to enable every reader of goodwill to decide whether we need this kind of sex education in the lives of our children.
What our children need, in addition to the acquisition of technical and vocational skills, is an education which helps them to understand and to develop healthy habits, good decision-making skills and a strong sense of meaning and purpose. They need an education that does not lower the bar for them but calls them to pursue excellence. They need an education that is valued based and recognises our cultural and religious heritage and the place of morals.
To address the concerns about parents being busy, I propose that as part of the commencement exercises at the beginning of every academic year, a session on sex education is organised for parents who can then pass it on to their children, taking cognisance of their physical, psychological, spiritual and emotional development.
In addition, we need incentives that support parents to fulfil their parental duties. We need more family-friendly policies and workplaces at the national and state levels and we should implement these policies in both the public and private sectors. There should also be more opportunities for remote-working to enable parents to spend more time with their children.
Finally and very importantly, the government should provide tax breaks that encourage and afford parents the opportunity to explore the option of not having both parents working full time.
Mary Ekemezie is a legal practitioner in Lagos.