SUSPEND IMMEDIATE IMPLEMENTATION OF CSE UNTIL ALL STAKEHOLDERS ACHIEVE BROAD CONSESUS -EFZ
MONDAY, 28TH SEPTEMBER, 2020
“A nation falls through a lack of guidance, but victory comes through the counsel of many.” (ISV)
A representative team of the EFZ Advocacy Group, Protect Zambian Children Coalition, made a fervent presentation to the Ministry of General Education, on Thursday, 24th September 2020, re-enforcing the message of the EFZ Press Statement (18th September, 2020) on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE), appealing for the suspension of the program, which has already been widely introduced in our schools in Zambia.
Therefore, we wish to express deep gratitude to the Minister of Education Hon. Dennis Musuku Wanchinga, MP, who took time to hear and accept our submissions against the continued implementation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme in its current format in schools across the country.
We are also grateful that Hon. Wanchinga took the opportunity to include the Minister of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Hon. Rev. Godfridah Sumaili, MP, who joined us in the engagement accompanied by the Permanent Secretary from Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs, Rev. Dr Howard Sikwela.
Further, we are grateful that following our initial presentation Hon. Wanchinga, arranged a meeting with a team of his senior technocrats at the Ministry to discuss the background and context of the CSE programme with us.
As we reflect on the rich interaction with the Ministry of General Education, we have taken special note that there are other implementors of CSE, such us specialized Civil Society Organisation (CSOs). We particularly note that the majority of these CSOs are heavily funded by foreign organisations, whose track record is known and skewed towards liberal ideologies that have long threatened Africa’s moral, cultural and religious values.
Numerous parents in our churches have raised concerns regarding the unfettered access these CSOs have to our communities, as they target out-of- school young people with a dedicated CSE curriculum distinct from the school based one. A good number of CSOs offer a range of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH& R) services that parents feel equally need fresh scrutiny and reassessment by from key stakeholders.
This is against the backdrop of recalling that some known funders of these programmes have in the past been named and undeniably linked, for instance, to the procurement of hundreds of illegal abortions, as a case in point, in one of Zambia’s provinces a number of years ago.
While it is observed that in the early process of piloting the CSE programme in Zambia, direct references to sexual orientations such as homosexuality were resisted by participants and therefore removed, we maintain that a fundamentally liberal ideological thread is identifiable and we are concerned about the subtle and pervasive integration of this into other subject matter. CSE and/or SRH & R cannot be pursued so wantonly at the expense of the moral, cultural, religious and legal standing of our country.
Therefore, CSE must be withdrawn and let us quickly return to the drawing board for the drafting of a family-centred sexuality education approach that secures Zambia’s posterity, more assuredly.
In this respect, we are glad that a number of CSOs in their latest Press Release do acknowledge the need to engage in wide consultations with key stake holders such as parents, religious leaders traditional authorities, parliamentarians, and many others, who were left out in the initial Pilot conducted in three districts of Eastern province and the eventual roll out that followed, alongside the signing of the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Commitment.
Therefore, we reiterate that CSE in its current design remains a fundamental threat to the well-being of our children, adolescents and threatens the moral fibre, cultural and religious standing of our country.
We take strong exception to the assertion by some CSOs that objections advanced against CSE are allegedly unfounded, ill intended and not evidenced based. How can the voices of parents, we represent and to whom the children belong, be ill intended? Can CSOs claim more concern for the welfare of children that the parents who have raised them? We put it on record that some of the parents who have voiced concerns are employees of the ministry of education.
We stand on firm ground with evidence from independent reviewers demonstrating a high failure rate of school-based CSE programmes internationally. We insist that well corroborated evidence must inform policy.
While it is acknowledged that Reproductive health related problems such as unwanted pregnancies, early marriages or HIV and other challenges facing adolescents may be closely linked to “insufficient knowledge about sexuality and reproduction”, it is a category error to claim that CSE is the ‘sliver’ bullet solution, especially in the manner it is currently couched, locally and globally.
It is a known fact that this remains contestable space by families world-wide and that cannot be ignored.
Let us sit around the table
Zulu et al (2019) in a study done in Nyimba, found that:
“CSE had limited legitimacy in the community and was met with resistance from teachers tasked with its’ implementation. In order to enhance ownership to the CSE program, local concerns about the contents of the curriculum and the parent-teacher role dilemma must be taken into consideration.”
The Church, like other stake holders, is equally concerned about the rise of teenage pregnancies, sexual immorality, Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) including HIV, child marriages, and other vices. Our long standing commitment to continue making contribution towards support of all national efforts aimed at reducing or eliminating the vices speaks for itself, by virtue of the significant programmes currently undertaken in church run institutions as well as in some congregation-based programmes.
It is also our intention to engage the Ministry of Health directly, seeing they are implementing the other key Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRH&R) programmes where similar concerns around wanton provision of contraceptives, and abortions to adolescents in various facilities around the nation is being offered.
We await a final word from the Ministry of General Education and the Ministry of National Guidance and Religious Affairs on the way forward on the subject at hand.
Proverbs 11:14- “A nation falls through a lack of guidance, but victory comes through the counsel of many.” (ISV)
May God bless our great nation!
Bishop Paul E. Mususu- EFZ Board Chairperson