BY DANIEL OTIENO
About 13,000 girls drop out of school annually due to unwanted pregnancy, according to the Kenya Demographic Health Survey of 2014.
In addition, according to the Global Childhood report, Kenya has the third highest teenage pregnancy rates with 82 births per 1000 births emerging from girls between 15 and 24 years.
Further, the median age at first sex is 17 for men and 18 for women. These numbers clearly point to the fact that young people desperately need information on sexuality, and life skills to prevent unintended pregnancy as well as protection from risky behaviors.
UNESCO together with civil society organizations have evidence that proves that age-appropriate sexuality education in schools can provide the skills needed by adolescents to protect themselves from unintended pregnancy, HIV and sexually transmitted infections.
Provision of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) has several benefits. First it will enhance more responsible sexual behavior as it provides adolescents with knowledge and understanding of their sexuality.
Comprehensive sexuality education also enables adolescents make decisions regarding when and how to engage in sex, with focus on prevention of unintended pregnancy.
When adolescents and youth understand their sexuality, the country experiences reduced cases of unintended pregnancy, children will continue with their education and girls and women will be empowered to be decision makers with a higher socio-economic status.
To strengthen implementation of comprehensive sexuality education, the Education Ministry should provide the resource materials needed including teachers and student guides, train teachers on CSE and support CSE implementation in secondary schools.
Teacher training on CSE will improve their attitudes towards CSE. This is due to the difficulties some teachers face in teaching topics related to HIV, unintended pregnancy, and sexuality.
We also must demystify issues associated with provision of sexuality education that emerge from parents and religious leaders.
Collaboration of the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education in working together for the benefit of learner’s education and health is much appreciated and should be encouraged.
If the two ministries, together with civil society organizations, parents and religious leaders go a level higher to support implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in schools, Kenya will have better outcomes in sexual and reproductive health, free from unintended pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, and HIV and school dropout
Mr Otieno is a youth advocate at the Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA)