There is currently no standard of sex and respectful relationships education across Ugandan schools. Additionally, religious schools and leaders have voiced their reservations about how to approach these issues, and the motive behind.
Despite the gains made in the Equality debate, Uganda has been unable to translate this into inclusive sex education for young people. While countries such as England and Canada are adopting progressive, consistent sex education programs at a national level, Uganda has not.
The Uganda government is quietly trying to distance itself from the sex education inclusion in our schools curriculum. Politics aside, there is an urgent need for these lessons and resources to support the initiative. Gender-based violence against women is too common in Uganda.
Only a few years ago, Uganda was very close to having a standard national resource for sex and relationships education. Its creators should also have aspired to create consistency across all educational jurisdictions in Uganda, in line with the national Education Curriculum. This program was designed as an evidence-based, educational anti-bullying program. Resources used to help deliver the program were developed by experts and carefully selected to ensure they were age-appropriate for the students using them.
Sex education programs contain strong messages of healthy relationships, violence prevention and control, which young people can relate to, regardless of their situation.
Gender and sexual diversity are part of the rich multicultural landscape of contemporary Ugandan society. But research indicates there’s significant cause for concern about gender-based violence and family violence. Education about respectful relationships has been identified by Public Policy Forum Uganda as a key way to combat this.
Likewise, current research about young people and sex and sexual diversity is alarming. There are still high levels of mental health issues (such as depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicide) among sexually opinionated young people as a result of bullying, discrimination, and harassment at school and in the wider community.
The data indicate increasingly high rates of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among young people are also a significant concern. Rates of AIDS, syphilis and gonorrhea in Uganda are highest amongst people aged 15-24 years.
Regardless of sexual orientation, research indicates young people need to be reliably informed about sex and safe sex. The ramifications of not doing so are far too significant. Research shows school-based sexuality education improves sexual health outcomes for young people.
Likewise, Uganda has unacceptably high rates of family, domestic and sexual violence, while gender inequality permeates most aspects of society. This can be mitigated through reliable education about healthy relationships. Family, domestic and sexual violence is not a sign of a healthy society.
Sex, respectful relationships, and gender all need to be discussed in schools as a component of a whole-school approach. This should not only include in-class education, but it should also be addressed in school cultures, policies and procedures, and in gender equity among the staff.
This is important because we need safe, inclusive schools that celebrate diversity. It’s also important to raise awareness among young people to mitigate family, domestic and sexual violence.