There has been a furore of commentary in the media landscape following a purported leak of a document on Comprehensive Sexuality Education in basic schools in Ghana. The rather unfortunate misconception has sent many on a wild goose chase with scores more agitated over something that does not exist in the new curricula.
ABC News deems it a civic duty to help break down the issues based on checks by our research team. We have engaged variously and severally many stakeholders within the education space and now offer a breakdown of what really the CSE is all about but to summarise briefly;
- The CSE guideline document in circulation HAS NOT been approved by GES/NaCCA
- No school has been supplied with any handout on Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- No time allocations have been made for CSE on the basic education time table
- None of the subject areas has any content on Comprehensive Sexuality Education
- The CSE guideline IS NOT part of or has not been inculcated into the new curricula
Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE), what does it mean?
The Government of Ghana through the Ministry of Education launched the CSE programme this year in partnership with the United Nations Education, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in a bid to empower adolescents and young people to deepen their scope on existing activities to attain a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).
In achieving this aim, a document was drafted which will give guidance on how teachers in kindergarten, primary and Secondary Schools will embed this Comprehensive Sexuality and Reproductive Health Education (CSRHE) into the already existing modules of teaching in the country.
There are two different sets of modules in the said guidelines;
The first focuses on in-school CSRHE, that is, one that needs to be to be taught in schools, according to age and grade with the age range being 4-18 years. This module is to be used by teachers from the Kindergarten level to the Senior High School level.
The second, which focuses on Community based CSRHE is targeted at people between the ages of 6 and 24 years, comprising of children, adolescents, and young people. This is also to be used by stakeholders who offer Reproductive Health Education in communities.
The objectives of the CSE is to provide appropriate training and support for young people in areas of acquiring accurate Information on sexual rights and productive health, nurturing positive attitudes and values including open-mindedness, respect for self and others, developing a non-judgmental attitude among others
It would also support the delivery of good quality CSE that empowers adolescents and young people to deepen the scope of existing activities to attain an almost full-scale implementation of CSE in six countries also known as the Programme Acceleration Countries – Ghana, Eswatini, Malawi, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.
Notwithstanding the motives of CSE, social media has been awash with some misconceptions. These misconceptions will be clarified based on the content provided.
Misconception 1 – That children below 6years will be exposed to sexuality
The CSE does not seek to teach every child between the stipulated ages of 4 to 18 the same content about sexuality. Children in the pre-school, that is between the ages of 4-5 are going to be taught about interactions and Oral hygiene. This is contained in Modules 1 and 2; Session 1.
What Primary school pupils will be taught
Pupils in Primary schools, between the ages of 6-11 will be taught topics relating to reproductive health which will be integrated into the three main subjects, namely Social Studies, Integrated Science and Moral and Religious Education. For the rest of the subjects, Reproductive Health topics will be discussed indirectly in the curriculum such as incomprehension and easy writing in the teaching of languages.
Topics to be taught in Primary 1 (6 years): values and societal/ social norms/ what we believe in; Personal hygiene and oral hygiene; Myself, being a male or female.
Topics to be taught in Primary 2 (7 years): Reflecting on our own attitudes; Personal hygiene and Body hygiene, Roles and responsibilities as a child.
Topics to be taught in Primary 3 (8 years): Recognizing whether something is fair or unfair; Understanding interpersonal relationships [types and formes]; Families and relationships in our lives; Concept of gender [maleness and femalenness]
Topics to be treated in Primary 4 (9 years): Human growth and development life cycle, knowing about one’s body/ sexual and reproductive organs, seeking health care, developing self-esteem and leadership skills.
Topics to be treated in Primary 5 (10 years): Religious and social values; Puberty/ changes as we grow; Relationships; friendship, dating, and courtship; Population of Ghana
Topics to be treated in Primary 6 (11 years): Fertility; pregnancy-related issues, and childbirth; Relationship; Marriage and Family Life, the concept of gender; norms, roles and stereotyping, decision-making skills and population as a resource/ Essence of the healthy population for national development.
Here’s what students in JHS will be taught
At the Junior High School level, children between the ages of 12 to 14 years will be educated on Reproductive Health topics which will be integrated into existing courses such as Integrated science, social studies, and Moral and Religious Education. Here, Sexuality Education topics will also be found in activities in other subjects such as the English Language.
Topics to be treated in JHS 1 (12 years): Norms in interpersonal relationships; Sources for SRH services/seeking services; Fertility regulation abstinence – contraceptives, and other methods; Unintended pregnancy and Abortion; Human rights and Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights.
Topics to be treated in JHS 2 (13 years): Alcohol, Drug, and substance abuse; Respecting gender differences/ Dealing with gender discrimination; Gender and power relations/Gender and health; Communication (direct versus indirect communication styles), Negotiation skills and Assertive skills.
Topics to be treated in JHS 3 (14 years): Preventing common diseases/infections among adolescents; Seeking help for drug abuse; Developing Self-esteem; Reproductive Tract Infections (RTIS); About Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV and AIDS; Protection against STIs and HIV
Here’s what students in SHS will be taught as part of the CSE
Finally, in the Senior High Schools, students between the ages of 15 to 17 years will be taught on Sexuality Education topics which will be integrated into two core subjects, that is, Integrated Science and Social Studies and the two elective subjects, Biology and Management in Living. Other subjects such as English Language and Art incorporate activities on Reproductive Health Topics.
Topics to be taught in SHS 1 (15 years): Gender, social and economic mobility, safety and safe public spaces; Gender and bodily autonomy; Gender and violence, Responding to gender-based/intimate partner violence; Gender Empowerment; Communication (parent-child, with peers and relationships); Leadership skills; Population and development/reaping the demographic dividend.
Topics to be taught in SHS 2 (16 years): Alcohol, Drug and substance abuse; Seeking help for drug abuse; Building healthy relationships: empathy, respect and love; Avoiding violence within relationships/ bullying, harassment, assault, rape, Gender equality and HIV and AIDS prevention; Rights and responsibilities related to preventing STIs and HIV; Care and support/Issues of stigma and discrimination.
Topics to be taught in SHS 3 (17 years): Making changes in our lives and the world around us (Planning for the future/ Managing time, Concept of change meaning and process); Identifying what needs to change; Identifying person who can make change happens; Young people as change agents; Media and Change; Collaborating with others to achieve change.
Misconception 2 – The second misconception is that the CSE will be treated as a subject on its own
The assertion that this guideline will be taught as a course on its own is untrue. Rather, it will be mainstreamed into the current subjects that are currently being taught across these three levels of education. Four main subjects that are already being studied in schools, that is, Social Studies, Integrated Science, English Language and in some cases, Moral and Religious Education will encompass some of these topics enumerated above. For instance, in English Language, CSE concepts will be treated in comprehension and essay writing. Social Studies will be used to teach students on personal hygiene, Sexually Transmitted Diseases and Infections, etc.
It must be noted that the Comprehensive Guidelines to Sexuality Education is not a new concept but has been compiled into a single document after a review of the content.
Misconception 3: That the CSE is a subtle way of introducing LGBTQ in the Ghanaian society
This misconception has rather generated a lot of comments from a cross-section of Ghanaians, some of whom either are yet to peruse the Ghana Education Service document or have been somewhat misled by other documents used by NGOs in the country for their sexuality education. Although, it is admitted that some have genuinely read the contents of the guidelines put together for consideration by GES, to be included in the curriculum.
Per the contents of the document, at no point was there a mention of LGBTIQ. Indeed, students are going to be exposed to reproductive health education but this is not in any way different from topics that are currently being studied, hence it remains farfetched and to some extent disingenuous to suggest that a review of a course being studied by students in Ghana implies a subtle introduction of reproductive health subjects perceived to be alien to our culture.
In any case, the document is a proposal and is amenable as it has not been approved to be taught in the classrooms by teachers. It is still in the consideration stage and GES is yet to give the go-ahead for it to be made part of the curriculum.
Read the full document below: