The most difficult period during a child’s upbringing is when that child reaches his/her pubescent stage; that is the belief of many parents. This is because, at pubescent children become sexually active and aggressive, and tend to engage in illicit behaviours such as premarital sex, which ramifications are dire.
But many parents inability to adequately teach their pubescent boys and girls sexuality education has been blamed on an abhorrent behaviour like premarital sex among many youngsters. The “wait till they grow up and learn it by themselves attitude” adopted by many parents is actually causing more harm than good.
For instance, owing to the lack of sexuality education and reproductive health in most Ghanaian homes and schools, the Ghana Health Service (GHS) says, about 750,000 teenagers engage in abortion annually. This figure represents those who personally report at various health facilities to abort unwanted pregnancies. The GHS, however believes, that unreported cases could be much higher than what is on official records.
Similarly, the Ghana AIDS Commission in a 2013 national survey report, said 34, 557 children between 0-14 years were living with HIV in the country whereas the estimated number of children orphaned by AIDS was 184, 168. The UNAIDS also revealed recently, that in 2012, 260, 000 new HIV infections were detected among children worldwide and 95 percent were in low and middle-income countries including Ghana.
But thanks to Tamale based Savana Signatures (SavSign), 225 pupils aged 10 –14 from selected basic schools in the East Mamprusi District and the Tamale Metropolis who are being introduced to sexual health and HIV/AIDS lessons under the project, “My World & My Life (MWML)” –could abstain from illicit sexual activities till they are ripe of age.
|Picture By SavSign|
The project is made up of fourteen lessons and offers a unique opportunity for up to date sexuality education. It focuses on developing technical and social competencies of pubescent boys and girls such as negotiation skills, contraceptive use and the right to refuse sex. These competencies, according to Alhassan Fouzia Tua, Project Officer, are needed by young children for informed decision-making.
Speaking to Savannahnews after a demonstration of MWML by pupils of Bagliga Presby Primary School through a short drama on teenage pregnancy and HIV/AIDS at the school’s premises, Ms. Alhassan said, preliminary assessments by SavSign in two other beneficiary schools showed that the project was making steady impact in the lives of pupils.
The MWML project is currently being piloted in nine (9) basic schools in the Tamale Metropolis and East Mamprusi District. The schools include: Kotingli Presby Primary School, Bagliga Presby Primary School, Kpanvo Presby Primary School and Nyohini Presby Junior High School.
The rest are Langbinsi A/G Primary School, Langbina D/A Primary School, Gamabaga Presby Primary School, Zogligu D/A Primary School and Dagbiribuari D/A Primary School.
According to her, the project was expected to expand to other schools in the Northern Region and hopefully an integration of it into the country’s educational curriculum. “At the moment, Savana Signatures is working with Alliance for Strengthening Education in Ghana, Ghana Education Service and Ghana Health Service to adopt the MWML project for the Ghanaian child”, Ms. Alhassan emphasised.
The Executive Director of SavSign John Stephen Agbenyo earlier urged parents to spend some time with their children and teach them basic things concerning sexual reproductive health and rights and personal hygiene.
He also promised the Bagliga Presby Primary School two sets of desktop computers to facilitate their administrative work as well as enhance the teaching and learning of information and communication technology.