Experts in adolescent health have advised that nurturing of young people should be and is everyone’s responsibility, be it teachers, parents, community leaders, and all members of the public.
These cited a “widening information gap” brought about by sidelining the sexuality education or talks by the responsible parties who push the responsibility to their counterparts.
Speaking at the virtual Sexuality Education Dialogue yesterday, Quraish Matovu, a youth coordinator at Reproductive Health Uganda explained that sexuality education is crucial and needs to be availed to every young person.
“It’s important to appreciate that when we speak about sexuality education, we are talking about candid discussions we would like to have with young people relating to aspects of their growth pattern. The result is to ensure that young people make conscious decisions that are informed by the realities,” he said.
Filbert Baguma, the General Secretary Uganda National Teachers’ Union (UNATU) noted that before the covid-19 pandemic, some stake holders undermined and underrated the work of the teachers as regards guiding and counselling the young adults on growth and sexuality.
“I think today, people can ably articulate teachers’ work and it is clearer that children are safer in schools than in their homes. Evidence is there as you have seen from the media reports that a number of girls have been defiled, others impregnated,” he said.
He said that once schools are fully reopened, a few girls will resume their studies since many have become or are about to become young mothers.
“That means we are having a generation of fathers and mothers who don’t know parenting,” he said.
Baguma noted that there is an information gap about sexuality education, as parents think that it is the role of teachers, and the reverse is true which leaves the children caught in between.
“That’s how these defilers take advantage and offer free information which is misleading. In so doing, you will find a girl who is pregnant leaving school and starting a new life and this new life is troublesome. This is because the one who defiled her will not accept to go with her. We have the school set up which will say that once a girl gets pregnant, don’t bring her back to school, because she is going to act as a bad example,” he explained.
Baguma said that the information gaps abandoned by the teachers and parents are filled by those who take advantage of the “lost sheep”, misguiding them into their disastrous plans.
“Some parents don’t talk to their children because they go to school and there is an assumption that teachers are going to do the needful. The teachers also think that in some way, the parents talk to their children and therefore leave out some information and now the spoilers come along the way and occupy the gaps.”
He recommended that such gaps should be fixed.
“So, let us bridge all these gaps by making sure that we save the Ugandan child by making sure that we give them information that is going to help them appreciate their bodies; so that they guard them well,” Baguma advised.
According to Dr Robert Mutumba, Principal medical officer at the Ministry of Health, the ministry has ensured continuity of essential health services, adolescent health services inclusive amidst the covid-19 pandemic.
“We are also making sure that health workers are being oriented on provision of adolescent health services in a friendly way. Previously, we had a scenario where most of these young people do not get a friendly reception that they should at most of these facilities. So, we are rolling out training of these health workers on adolescent friendly or responsive service provision,” he said.