An ethical perspectve on the implementation of the ''UNESCO international guidelines on sexuality education'' in Zambia Secondary Schools

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Bwalya, Rachael
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This study was carried out to investigate from an ethical perspective how the "UNESCO International Guidelines on Sexuality Education" can be implemented in Zambian secondary schools. The objectives of the study were to: i) explain the debate for and against school-based sexuality education, ii) assess the current curriculum on sexuality education in Zambian secondary schools, iii) find out views from key informants concerning the implementation of school-based sexuality education in Zambian secondary schools, iv) give an ethical evaluation of how the UNESCO International Guidelines on Sexuality Education should be implemented in Zambian secondary schools. The data was collected through documentary research and also by conducting interviews with some key informants from the Ministry of Education, religious groups, Forum for African Women Educationists Zambia (FAWEZA) and parents. Different interview schedules were used to collect data from these different groups. The methodology employed was empirical research combined with an ethical analysis that applied the ethical theory of Utilitarianism and Rights Theory. The study shows that the Ministry of Education in Zambia does not have a serious policy with regard to sexuality education in schools. Although there is a statement made in the Education Policy Document Educating Our Future concerning the teaching of sexuality education, very little has been done to enforce it. Analysis of the secondary school curriculum revealed that young people learn about their sexuality in Environmental Science, Biology, Civic Education and Religious Education. Nonetheless, these subjects do not cover most of the essential information and skills that young people need. Besides, these subjects are optional except environmental science which is compulsory at grades 8 and 9. This makes young people potentially vulnerable to risky sexual behaviour which in turn affects their health and their education process. Further, very few parents discuss issues of sexuality with their children due to certain social norms or because they are too busy to do so. The views of those opposed to school-based sexuality education are that school programmes talk about sexual issues in a crude way. For instance, young people are taught to use contraceptives and condoms. This encourages them to indulge in premarital sex. Nevertheless, considering the overall results of the findings and based on human rights and utilitarianism, it is concluded that implementing the UNESCO International Guidelines is preferable because it promotes the well-being of young people better than home-based sexuality education and what is in the current curriculum for secondary schools. Based on these findings, the study made some recommendations. The prominent ones are that the Ministry of Education should reinforce a policy on the teaching of sexuality education in schools and teacher training colleges to equip teachers with the information and skills that they would later teach to the pupils. It is also recommended that the UNESCO International Guidelines be adopted with some adjustments to suit the needs of the Zambian society. Also, consultations with various stakeholders should be made when formulating the syllabus to decide the topics to be included at different age levels.
Sex education , Sex Instruction