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Parents and teachers agree on the need for sex education and the appropriate time for their children or pupils to be exposed to the delicate subject

It is one subject many people, young and old, are not comfortable talking about. But sex as a topic is difficult to ignore. Looked at from different perspective, it refers to a man or woman, or of the activity, that is, intercourse, between them.

The idea to now teach sex education to young boys and girls for example, is something many people, parents especially, cannot reconcile. They see such proposition as attempts to teach or introduce to the young, things they are not old enough to understand.

For a long time hence, there has been a dabate between conservative traditionalists and moralists on one hand, and the realists on the other, on the propriety or otherwise of teaching sex education to youngsters. To some, it is a taboo subject, meant only for adults, and something to talk about in hush tones, away from eavesdropping teenagers. For others, their traditional or religious beliefs forbid them from talking about it.

However intense the debate has been, sex or sexuality education had, in fact, been a feature of Nigerian educational system. Even before the clamour by its proponents for it to be taught as a subject of its own, a proposal that hasn’t quite succeeded in its original form, sex education was being taught in schools as part of Biology, which is “the scientific study of the life and structure of plants and animals” or “the way in which the body and cells of a living thing behave.” 

Those who support the idea of teaching young people about sex, say it would benefit and enable them become better informed about their sexuality. And the task of imparting this knowledge is decidedly the responsibility of not just the teachers, but that of their parents and guardians also. This is because, sex education as an idea, in a sense, is not much different from the philosophy of training the child  well, which, as had been severally canvassed, is not the sole responsibility of the teacher or parent alone.

But not a few parents are beginning to wake up to this reality and responsibility, particularly in an increasingly changing world that has, in the last two decades, witnessed a revolution in the communication cum information technology sector, thus making it easier to access and transmit  information and images of all  kind from the media and internet.

Funke Bamidele, a parent, said sex education is all about educating the child on all aspects of sexual relations, such as the feelings involved, how to control it, intercourse and what it can result to, like pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. She said that although sex education is now taught in schools, it is still up to a parent, a mother especially in the case of a female child, to enlighten the child about her anatomy, like the menstrual cycle. “You teach her how to handle her feelings, how to keep herself chaste, and try to support her in every way you can,” she said, adding that “the mistake most parents make, is that they tell their children that if a boy touches them, they will get  pregnant, but when these children discover it is not true, they begin to test their limits and experiment.”

Sex education, she said, is appropriate because it is like a proactive measure, if well delivered, as one would have prevented one’s child from contracting sexual infections and  getting pregnant outside the matrimonial home. “I was not shy or ashamed to talk to my children about sex. I have three daughters and I taught them  how a woman should behave in the presence of a man, and when to have sex which is in their husbands home. As they grew up, I kept educating and advising and reminding them about it.”

Bisi Fadaini, another parent, admits that sex education is good for young people. “I am a young mother, my oldest child is fifteen and I am happy that they teach it in schools. When my daughter had her first menstral period, I talked to her and it was a bit awkward. I was a little bit shy to be discussing sex with my daughter, but she herself already knew a lot of what I was saying and perhaps even more. They watch television a lot, read novels and have friends, all of which expose them to sex, so that by the time you are talking about it with them, they will even be the ones cutting you short and  correcting you.” Fadaini added that “I told my daughter what I knew, and advised her to wait till marriage before indulging in sex, but ultimately, the decision lies with her, as we parents can only offer advice and hope they heed it.”

Mercy            Okon, a teacher at Divine Lights Secondary School, Ipaja, Lagos, in appraising the matter, said it is no longer a new thing. “In fact,  if you speak about it in class to your students during biology under reproduction, they always ask a lot of questions. They make fun, but ultimately they don’t shy away from it like it used to be 10 years ago. Now, they even correct the teachers themselves because they watch films and read a lot. Some of them are even sexually active from as young as 13 and also carry out abortions.” She said that although teachers try to educate their students, which also includes preaching the abstinence message,  there is a limit to how they could go. “The parents have a bigger role to play, in restating this message and also monitoring their children,” she said.

Austine Okechukwu, a pastor with the Ambassadors of Christ International Ministry, said that ordinarily, it is not a wise decision to introduce sex education to young boys and girls but that the consequences of not doing so could be unpleasant. “With young girls getting pregnant and rampant cases of sexually transmitted diseases, it becomes inevitable.”

In that light, Nwalia Stanley, a Physics teacher at Rolless Academy, Iba, Lagos, would want sex education introduced as a full fledged subject. “It would be a dream come true,” she said.

Jerry Osa Uwaifo, a gynaecologist and chief medical director, Central Hospital, Benin City, also said it will be good to introduce sex education in school’s curriculum, so that young boys and girls will be better informed about it.

“There should be a way to introduce it in the schools curriculum and teach them how to  understand their sexual bodies. Children that are growing up should know about sex and its  implication from the onset.”

Reported by Annette Oghenerhaboke, Alexandra Akinyele and Anayo Ezegwu

 

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