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Zimbabwe, 19 October 2013: Zimbabwe launches an education strategy on life skills, sexuality and HIV and AIDS

© UNICEF Zimbabwe/2013/Washaya
UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini (left) and Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs. Constance Chigwamba at the launch.

by Yollanda Washaya

Harare, 19 October 2013 –The Government of Zimbabwe has called for increased access to knowledge and life skills for children and young people regarding their sexual and reproductive health and to HIV prevention, care and treatment services.

The call was made by the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education Mrs Constance Chigwamba when she launched the Life Skills, Sexuality, HIV and AIDS Strategy. 

Education plays a central role in the lives of children and young people who spend most of their time in school and other educational settings. In Zimbabwe, about 4 million children are primary and secondary school learners. An estimated 1.3 million Zimbabweans are living with HIV and about 7.5 per cent are children aged 0-14 years. An essential component of upholding children’s right to education is addressing the effects of the HIV epidemic on both learners and teachers.

The ‘Life kills, Sexuality and HIV and AIDS Education Strategic Plan’ aims to:

  • Ensure that the education sector supports all learners with access to correct information and lifeskills related to sexual and reproductive health, HIV prevention, care, treatment and support by the end of 2015; 
  • Ensure that learners living with HIV are supported to realize their personal, social and educational potential by end of 2015; and
  • Promote HIV workplace policies and activities that will support teachers and other education personnel in HIV prevention, treatment, care and support by end of 2015.

Studies show that young people in Zimbabwe who receive age-appropriate information imparted by trained teachers are less likely to become sexually active. If they are already sexually active, they are likely to reduce the frequency of sexual activity, the number of sexual partners, and to use contraception. It was this evidence-driven approach that assisted the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in developing the strategic plan.

“When age-appropriate information is shared by trained teachers, young people are more likely to delay their sexual debut, reduce the frequency of sexual activity, and the number of sexual partners,” said UNICEF Representative Reza Hossaini. “Contrary to common belief, providing comprehensive sex education to young people does NOT encourage them to be sexually active. In other words, giving children and young people the opportunity to receive correct information, learn how to live by their values, and acquire relationship skills will enable them to make the rights choices and become responsible and respectful adults,” he said.

 

 
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