Peace and Governance Practitioner, Lawrence Lachmansingh, has joined the bandwagon of persons calling for a comprehensive reform of the sex education curriculum in schools across the country.
Even though the education system has adopted the abstinence approach, Guyana’s appallingly high rate of teenage pregnancy is a clear indication that somewhere along the line, something is not working.
As many await the outcome of the Commission of Inquiry being done into the public education system, Lachmansingh is adding his two cents on what needs to be done to remedy the inadequacies.
“Sex education should not just be about the mechanics of sex…my parts and your parts, and how the two parts fit, and what happens when the two parts fit,” Lachmansingh said.
During the most recent Women and Gender Equality Commission forum held at Carifesta Sports Complex, Lachmansingh made the call for the sex education curriculum to be adjusted to cater for “Sex and Relationships.
“…because, the sex is in the context of two persons who care about each other, having a relationship, and how that relationship is nurtured and cultivated so that it can deal with all of the implications of sex.”
Lachmansingh, who is also part of the Justice and Peace Commission of the Roman Catholic Church, pointed out that very recently, the United Kingdom even tweaked its age old sex education approach to cater for the ever-growing issues affecting particularly adolescents.
“It is not happening in this country,” he added.
Lachmansingh is among many who share the belief that a complete transformation of the sex education programmes in school can be the answer to tackling Guyana’s very high teenage pregnancy and child mortality figures.
“We see today children are making children, and often times their bodies are not ready, and this contributes to our child mortality figures,” Lachmansingh pointed out.
Closely behind Dominica, Guyana has the second highest rate of teenage pregnancy in the Caribbean, with the Greater Georgetown community of Sophia leading the country’s figures.
Last year, the Guyana Responsible Parenthood Association conducted a ‘snap survey’ which focused on sexual trends among the adolescent and youth population in the country. The survey, which was carried out in eight of Guyana’s ten administrative regions, highlighted that more than 50 percent of youths are sexually active.
Some 42 percent of the 392 respondents of the survey were sexually active. They were between the ages of 16 and 18. Worryingly, some 35 percent of them were under the age of consent, which is 16. Approximately 53 percent of the surveyed youths were engaging in sexual activity while they were still in school.
The document, which was presented by Social Activist, Sherlina Nageer, highlighted that males were having sexual encounters earlier than their female counterparts.
A very disturbing fact and one that should have been a massive alarm to authorities, is the fact that that some 20 percent of the respondents reported that they were either raped or coerced into sexual activity.
The gathering of students, teachers, parents, media operatives and Health Ministry officials, including then Minister, Dr. George Norton, heard that of 20 percent, 26 percent of them were coerced while they were under the age of 12, while 61 percent of those doing the coercing were over the age of 18.
The survey indicated too, that 30 percent of the respondents received information about sex from their parents and via other means; while a mere nine percent received theirs via the school system.
GRPA had promised during the release of the study almost a year ago, that efforts would commence to conduct a larger study on the issue, and then be used as data to further urge the government to act on the issue.
BETTER PERSONS, NOT JUST ECONOMIC AGENTS
In addition to reforming sex education programmes, Lawrence Lachmansingh is also among those who share the view of Education Minister, Rupert Roopnaraine that the current education system is only fuelling many of the country’s social frustrations.
“It is forming us to be just economic agents of development…basically, you’re just doing education to get a job,” Lachmansingh said.
He added, “the best researches out there have shown that the education system we need, is one that forms the whole person…understand the arts, appreciate culture…travel, get out of your comfort zones, do physical things like sports…scouting,” the Peace Consultant added.
He is of the firm belief that education should go beyond the classroom.
“We need to form young people in such a way that they can be better persons. Not just economic elements.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Roopnaraine has often promised to use his tenure as Education Minister, to massively transform the system and the way children are molded. This is one of the reasons behind the Ministry’s Education Commission of Inquiry which is scheduled to be completed by the end of this month.
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