Church rejects sexuality education in their schools

By Patience Ahimbisibwe

Kampala- The Church has opposed the implementation of sexuality education in their schools unless the current content is changed to meet the required values.

Both the Catholic Church and Church of Uganda (CoU) leaderships are opposed to the introduction of sexuality education in schools in its current form.

They cite the age at which sexuality education will be introduced to children. They say introducing sexuality education to three-year-old children as proposed in the government policy is not right.

The Church questions how implementation and monitoring of the content will be done.
Rev Canon William Ongeng, the CoU provincial secretary, said a joint meeting of the Catholic Church and CoU leaders had been scheduled last week to discuss the matter with the Minister of Education, Ms Janet Museveni, but did not take place for some undisclosed reason.

“The implementation part of the policy is causing problems and the age at which it is being introduced is worrying. What [sexuality] can you discuss with a child of three years? What do you tell them about sexuality?” Rev Ongeng asked during an interview yesterday.

His counterparts at the Catholic Church shared the same position, insisting that the content in its current form will not be allowed unless it meets their Christian standards.

Father Ronald Okello, the executive secretary for education at the Uganda Catholic Secretariat, yesterday said the sexuality education policy, launched in May, has loopholes that must be corrected before it is taught in schools.

“The content is not age appropriate. Unless these things are worked on, they will not be taught in the Catholic- founded schools,” Fr Okello said.

Last month, the plenary of the Assembly of the Catholic Bishops issued a statement, saying while they appreciate a positive, age appropriate, culturally and religious sex education which upholds moral and Christian values, their input was ignored in the final sexuality education document.

“In the final and published edition of the document, the contributions of the Catholic experts have been substantially ignored. As it stands now, the National Sexuality Education Framework, though containing some valid ideas and guidelines, fails to answer some crucial questions,” the statement reads in part.

The Catholic clerics point out that the role of the family was not considered especially in the early ages while children in preprimary (three to five years) and those in lower primary will be exposed to content and life skills which are not appropriate for their age.

The Church also indicated that the information and the life skills foreseen for the higher levels are open to interpretation and practices which might be manipulated.

“Should the National Sexuality Education Framework remain unchanged, with provisions and directives contrary to our Christian values, the common position of the Catholic Church, shared by our brothers of the Church of Uganda and the Orthodox Church, is that we shall not be able in conscience to have it introduced and taught in our Christian-founded schools,” Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the Chairman of the Uganda Episcopal conference, signed off the statement.

Mr Ismail Mulindwa, the Ministry of Education commissioner-in-charge of private schools and sexuality education coordinator, said they have not allowed any partner to implement the policy because they have not developed the curriculum.

Mr Mulindwa said the ministry’s consultant is yet to complete his document on the implementation plan which will guide what content will be generated for each age group.

“We launched the framework. We wrote a circular to schools to halt any activity concerning sexuality education until the implementation plan is out. It will have all stakeholders’ input. We have not come up with the messages which are age appropriate. People should not get worried now. It is going to be integrated in the curriculum and if it is a standalone, that is when it can worry,” he said.

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