Khanyiswa Mogotsi

Last year, the Council of Churches of Namibia (CCN) pressured Namibia to pull out of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme. That information programme was meant to be available to those wishing to use it in 2021. Doing this shoves Namibia backwards into the dark ages of ignorance.

Once again, über conservatives, the blindly religious, menopausal matrons and disconnected tatekulus have imposed their antiquated values on a majority youthful Namibian population.

A significant number of those blindly against any sex education in schools have never read the CSE curriculum guidelines they are so afraid of. This program is not legally binding; the CSE did not mandate Namibian schools to do anything. CSE offered guidelines, suggested text, readings and sensitive classroom presentations to be used (or not), as a school system chooses.

People living with their mindsets in yesterday agitate against sex education because they think that it would encourage young people to have more sex (than they already are). There is some strange belief that CSE would indoctrinate school children into “issues with gender ideology”. That euphemism means that the CCN does not want any information about LBGT+ people ever spoken.

Sex has always been considered a taboo subject by the church. They believe that if a learner takes a sex education class, they are going to have intercourse with the first person they meet. They believe that information about the LGBTQ+ community hypnotizes children to want to have sex with someone of their same gender. They fear that CSE will make their sons want to become their daughters. These ideas are so ignorant it is laughable. Many who preach from the pulpit have forgotten that God made all of us in His image. They would rather preach about exclusion, damnation, and sin as if that is the Christian message that will bring people closer to God.

The CCN must understand that although Namibia is mostly made up who say they are Christians; it is still a secular state by law. Citizens have the freedom to practice any religion and follow any belief. In a secular state, religion cannot be the grounds upon which legal decisions are made.

The decision to opt-out of the CSE programme was a bad one. Choosing to not have additional information about something in our lives every day puts us, the youth, at risk. Even without a CSE, curiosity and experimentation are happening daily. With CSE, at least there may have been relevant information available to influence those choices.

As someone who completed her entire primary and secondary school career in Namibia, I can attest to the fact that subjects such as biology and life skills do not cover relevant sex education. There are issues facing young people every day and the current curriculum does not address it. People are making decision about their sexuality and engaging in sex with little or no objective information.

The topic of consent or the importance of safe sex in both hetero and homosexual relationships was not discussed in my school classes. We all know that culturally, sexual education is not a topic covered at home. So where can young people learn enough to make better choices?

The lack of this detailed information forces us to learn about sex from wrong sources like peers who are equally ignorant, manipulative sexual predators (young and old) or from pornography.

CSE offered teachers information that would equip learners with the knowledge to positively affect their health and well-being.

In a country where HIV and other sexually transmitted infections among the population remains at such a high rate and stigma is attached to sexual identification, CSE’s information would have been important. Children must be taught about sexual responsibility and aided with information that makes them less vulnerable to dangerous sexual behaviours or sexual exploitation.

Equipped with a CSE inspired skillset, the rates of unintended pregnancy and issues related to gender-based violence might decrease.

The topics covered in the CSE programme could have been offered in an age-appropriate manner to ensure that children were not exposed to words and descriptions that may be too mature for them. There was not going to be an indoctrination into anything like the CCN claimed.

I hope the CCN is also aware that the CSE programme was going to teach children about gender equality, human rights, and how to not discriminate other people for any reason.

With the freedom to practice any religion or belief, the CCN should be reminded that it is not fair to pressure a secular national government to make decisions for other people, who might not share their same beliefs.

Advocating for the removal the CSE programme, is possibly one of the most self-centred, fear-motivated decisions ever made in this country. Namibia has taken a step backwards into the dark ages thanks to the urging of the CCN.