The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC) has reviewed both Zambia’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) framework produced in 2013 as well as the teachers’ guides and learners’ booklets for grades 5 to 12 designed to operationalize the CSE framework in Zambia. Findings from the review of our CSE materials indicate that the current content is appropriate for the targeted age-groups and is in line with our national values and the best interest of our children. Among others, the Framework places abstinence at the center of the prevention of teenage pregnancies, STIs and HIV infections among school going children. More important, the curriculum framework pays particular attention to the limits concerning the modes and styles of communicating CSE information in schools. Evidence also shows that the rolling of CSE to schools is always preceded by the training of teachers by trainers approved by the Ministry of General Education through the Curriculum Development Center (CDC). In addition, there is nowhere in the CSE Framework where issues of abortion, transgender or indeed other inappropriate behaviors are encouraged either directly or indirectly.
It is also important to note that the teaching of CSE in Zambia came about because of the increasing cases of teenage pregnancies, STIs and HIV infections especially among girls leading to their dropping out of school. It is for this reason that CSE was designed to empower pupils with knowledge on abstinence, culture, society, hygiene, human development, life skills and values to empower teenagers to be more assertive and careful with their sexuality. There is no evidence whatsoever showing that the introduction of CSE in schools has led to increased sexual activity and pregnancies. To the contrary, official statistics show a reduction in the number of school pregnancies at primary school level from 12,753 pregnancies before the introduction of CSE in 2013 to 11,453 pregnancies by 2018 according to the Education Statistical Bulletins.
Finally, ZANEC’s evidence shows that government through the Ministry of General Education has paid due attention to our local context and values in domesticating the international instruments on CSE. Therefore, the Coalition would like to encourage all education stakeholders and members of the public to take keen interest in reviewing our CSE Framework and raise specific issues that they deem inappropriate to avoid debates that are not based on our existing policies and practices. It is on this basis that we would like to conclude that there is no locally derived empirical evidence in support of the suspension of the rolling out of CSE in schools.
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