Friday 18 June 2021
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Bisexuality in schools pits UN against government

A new curriculum for teachers on sexual education in both primary and high schools which recognises bisexual teachings, has been rejected by the education ministry even before it got off the ground.
The curriculum has been released under United Nations Population Fund.
Bisexuality has been a neglected topic in Namibian schools. This is not entirely surprising given bisexuality’s marginal positionality in the Namibian society. The Ministry of Education, Arts and Culture which is mandated to provide health education and a natural sciences curriculum based on informed research in collaboration with Namibia Institute for Educational Development (NIED), has already rejected the UN proposal. The new curriculum proposed by the UN states clearly that children have rights to choose who they want to be relating to physical and sexual identity. This curriculum has been rubber stamped in countries like South Africa and many around Europe and America. In fact, it has been a walk over in countries that recognise and promote gay/lesbian rights. According to the UN, sexual education offers a place where communication, assertiveness, problem solving and decision making within friendships and wider communities can be looked at. It makes a big difference to the learning and overall sexual health of young people. In an interview this week, Deputy director in the Education ministry (on HIV/AIDS management unit), Julius Nghifikwa said the curriculum on sexual education in Namibia does not promote bisexuality at all and it will not be implemented.
“We look at the programmes from United Nations, filter and decide on what is appropriate to our culture as Namibians”, he said. “Parents and churches must come in to give morality. It does not hinge on teachers at school only to direct pupils regarding their sexual identity”, adds Nghifikwa while condemning the move. In light of this, bisexual identity falls under societal activities and cultural backgrounds and that is the reason why it should be addressed in a family setup or churches first before educational institutions. Nghifikwa however noted that, the ministry is experiencing a shortage of trained teachers to teach life skills as a subject owing to insufficient teaching of comprehensive sexual education at local universities. In response to this, the Education ministry is providing in- service training to all regions online and face to face platform. The UN and other organisations are working with governments to implement the curriculum in schools across the world. In recent years debates on issues related to gender and sexuality and recognition of gay rights have been gaining traction.
According to Ecumenical Social Diaconate Action also known as (Haven Shelter for abused women and children), a coordinating team that usually work with high schools regarding gender principles, sexual education in schools should be taught with principles. One of the coordinators who refuse to be named said: “During our outreaches to schools we advocate for the promotion of moral values and norms from an African perspective, this does not recognise bisexuality”. Debates on this new curriculum stress a strong argument as to how it will impact learners. “We as an organisation are against the curriculum proposed by UN, they are hiding something bid (and bad), this is going to open doors of experimentation among teenagers”, she added.
Sexual education involves high quality teaching that requires broad variety of topics related to sex and gender, society and culture. This has sparked debate within and outside Namibia regarding cultural values and norms- the notion of weighing negative impact vs positive impact.
UN is an international body that does not recognise “cultures”, it is a body that represent a global village and according to the UN, sexual education is regarded as a development and mitigatory measure towards new HIV infections amongst young people and teenage pregnancy. This is in line with 2030 vision on National Development Goal (NDGs).
In New Zealand, sexual education is part of health and physical education learning curriculum in which board of trustees have to consult with school communities on their draft health curriculum. This includes how the schools will implement it and comply with the national educational guidelines. Teachers are trained for this and in return, schools try hard to respect differences in culture and religion.

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