It appears that the debate around Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) has refused to die. Some groups are even running a campaign to petition the government to shelve implementation of CSE in schools. Interestingly, sometime in 2015, the Ministry of Education invited religious leaders for a comprehensive briefing on the proposed new education curriculum.
The workshop held at the Silver Springs Hotel in Nairobi, brought together senior Church leaders from the National Council of Churches, Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops. It was led by senior Ministry officials, including top leaders from the Kenya Institute for Curriculum Development (KICD).
The Church leaders were generally quite impressed by the innovative thinking that had gone into restructuring our education system. We embraced the new education structure and curriculum and gave feedback on areas we thought needed review.
All was well until the matter of the CSE came up. The officials became dodgy, with no one ready to concede knowledge of, or take responsibility for the introduction of the CSE into the curriculum. The buck passing saw the hitherto fruitful discussions close in serious acrimony. The Church was however firm that CSE must not be included in the new curriculum. The officials and facilitators promised to escalate the Church views to relevant authorities for due consideration and appropriate action.
Strangely, in September the same year, in a seemingly unrelated event, the government through the Ministry of Health, launched what was known as the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health Policy 2015 (ASRHP). During the launch, then Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia declared that his ministry, together with the Ministry of Education, was working to ensure age-appropriate CSE is implemented in all schools. According to the CS, this was ostensibly “to empower young people with appropriate information and skills to help them make informed choices about their sexuality.” It was however not lost on pundits that this was a carefully crafted objective. Each of those words was loaded with meaning and pregnant with intention. It thus became apparent that some people in government were determined to implement CSE in our schools. But, what is this ruckus all about?
CSE is a global – albeit controversial – initiative involving major players, including UNESCO, UNFPA, International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), and many other NGOs. On the face of it, the initiative is driven by the noble desire to help young people, especially teenagers, to deal with matters of sexuality that expose them to dangers such as HIV, unplanned and unwanted pregnancies, and illicit abortions. Some have however considered this to be a mere façade that aims to camouflage a possibly more insidious agenda.
Analysts argue that, where CSE has been introduced, young people (ages 5-18) are introduced to various levels of explicit sexual information, complete with practical skills. Furthermore, they are trained to make independent decisions – independent of any adults or parents – about what they do with their sexuality. Such decisions include: if and when they have sex, with who, how they do it, and what contraceptives they use. They also have the independent choice to procure abortion. Indeed, according to IPPF, CSE is “rights-based and is designed to equip young people to make informed decisions.” This means that primary school going children are empowered to exercise absolute freedom to do as they wish with their bodies without any reference to or “interference” from parents.
In spite of this, proponents of CSE argue that parents and the Church oppose CSE from a point of ignorance and naivety – having buried their heads in the sand with regard to child sexuality. False. Many parents and family organisations are in full support of wholesome sex education. Instead, concern is that, unlike traditional sex education, CSE is highly explicit. With an almost obsessive focus on children obtaining sexual pleasure, CSE promotes promiscuity and high-risk sexual behaviors as healthy and normal. It presents children as naturally sexual from birth, therefore any restrictions on their sexual expression or sexual activity violates their sexual rights. Furthermore, in CSE, children have the right to experiment with diverse sexual identities and sexual orientations in order to develop a healthy sexuality.
Truth be told, CSE is backed by heavy external funding, and some of our dollar-hungry Kenyans have no qualms selling the souls of our children for the morsel. The government must however not buy into this evil scheme. The Church and parents already appear poised to firmly resist.