Absence of sex education in Zambian education system: Is it a missed opportunity for reducing HIV infections among the youths?

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Banda, Martin
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The study was undertaken in three provinces in Zambia namely: Central, Copperbelt and Western Provinces. The study sought to investigate the absence of sex education in Zambian secondary schools as a missed opportunity in the prevention of HIV infection. The objectives of the study were; to explore the consequences of lack of sex education in secondary schools in Zambia, examine if lack of sex education is a missed opportunity in the prevention of HIV, explore the views of secondary school graduates concerning sex education and establish whether secondary education in Zambia promotes the ability to protect oneself against HIV infection. In this particular study, both qualitative and quantitative designs were used. The combined approach provided an opportunity of using tools such as questionnaires, interviews and focus group discussions. The research was necessitated by the general lack of knowledge about sex education as a way of preventing HIV infections in Zambia. The study was guided by two theories: socialisation theory and social learning theory. The elements of socialisation theory in this study are primary and secondary socialisation with a main focus on secondary socialisation as the study investigated the education system in Zambia. The elements of the social learning theory are awareness, self-control, self-efficacy and social support.The results from the study showed that lack of sex education in secondary schools was a missed opportunity in the prevention of HIV infections in Zambia. Furthermore, the study revealed that relationships among the youths which led to sexual intercourse had affected most of the youth both in secondary schools and at times in tertiary education due to the lack of comprehensive understanding of human sexuality. The study revealed that the pupils had observed the need for sex education in schools to be taught so that they could know how to handle and protect themselves. The study further revealed that the means of educating the pupils in secondary schools to protect themselves from HIV infections were misleading as pupils had not reached the maturity to assess the media critically. From the findings of the study it was recommended that there was need for an intervention in the education system so that the education provided attended to the social needs. It is further proposed that there should be an innovation in the curriculum, that is, life skills, based in order to equip the pupils to protect themselves from HIV infections and manage their sexuality in a healthy way. The innovations should build on what is in place looking at both the strengths and weaknesses of the current approaches of education. The study further recommended rethinking or reorganising the content of the education system in order to deliver the skills and make the content learner participatory. Innovation such as sex education may be novelty and considering that curriculum innovation is complex, the study proposes a careful planning for the development and implementation of the curriculum that instils important life skills and attitudes that can reduce the HIV infections. A descriptive survey design was used to carry out the study. The study employed both qualitative and quantitative approaches to collect information about the HIV and AIDS preventions in secondary schools. The study composed of 466 informants drawn from secondary schools and colleges of education in the sampled provinces.  
Sex Instruction-Zambia , Sex education-Zambia