Civil society wins CSE fight
03 December 2020 | Education
International relations minister Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah has made a U-turn on her decision to discontinue comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programmes in schools.
Namibian Sun reported in October that Nandi-Ndaitwah wrote a letter to education minister Anna Nghipondoka advising her not to renew the country’s commitment to the East and Southern Africa (ESA) ministerial commitment on CSE.
As a result, civil society organisations like the African Youth and Adolescents Network Namibia and the Namibian Family Planning Association were up in arms and engaged the minister on the importance of CSE in schools.
Nandi-Ndaitwah has since written another recommendation to the education ministry that CSE be kept in schools, but under a different name - skills-based health education.
Debunking the myths
In a telephonic interview, education ministry executive director Sanet Steenkamp this week said her ministry made a detailed presentation to Cabinet on the importance of CSE and what is contained in the curriculum for different grades.
She said it is important to debunk the myths surrounding CSE and the belief that the ministry is advocating for children to engage in sexual activities.
“The curriculum differs on grades and the language taught is age appropriate. Currently, there is a lot of teacher training going on for when the programme continues in schools come next year,” she said.
In a letter dated 11 November, Steenkamp wrote that Cabinet takes note of the misunderstanding and apprehensions caused by the term ‘comprehensive sexuality education’ and adopts the proposal to use the term ‘skills-based health education’.
She said Cabinet directed the education ministry to ensure that career guidance is incorporated in the life skills syllabus for both junior and senior primary phases.
Customised to Namibian context
“The Cabinet also directed the ministry to ensure that all relevant stakeholders, including parents, are consulted prior to the commencement of the implementation of the ESA Commitment (2021-2030).
“The consultative process should ensure that the commitment is customised to the Namibian context, such as alignment to religious, cultural, traditional, moral values and norms,” part of the letter read.
Steenkamp said the ministry has already started consultations with stakeholders.
– [email protected]