Professor Kofi Awusabo-Asare, a Senior Lecturer at the University of Cape Coast (UCC), has called on the Ghana Education Service (GES) to integrate critical and progressive Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) education topics in the academic curricula.
He said the timely provision of accurate and comprehensive information and life skills training regarding SRH and rights was essential for Junior and Senior High School adolescents as they transition into adulthood.
This was contained in a survey report made available to the Ghana News Agency on SRH education carried out in the Brong Ahafo, Northern and the Greater Accra regions.
Prof Awusabo-Asare said the integration of SRH topics into core and elective subjects as well as co-curricular activities in lower levels of education has resulted in many students being exposed to only basic SRH education concepts.
Giving some examples to buttress his case, he said: "Basic SRH education topics are introduced in the fourth year of primary school, a level at which all subjects, including those that cover SRH topics, are compulsory".
However, at the Senior High school level, the topics were integrated into Social Studies and integrated science and elective subjects such as biology and management in living.
The situation, he said, has also resulted in only a limited range of topics covered as part of the compulsory core subjects in schools.
Topics such as communication and interpersonal skills, which are imperative for adolescent development, HIV alert modules and contraception topics, were included but neither of these subjects are taken by all students.”
Prof Asare said other pertinent issues such as negotiation skills, ability to manage risk, how to use and where to access contraceptives, gender, marriage, body anatomy, gender-violence and equity were not included in compulsory school studies curriculum.
Speaking on challenges with SRH education, he said, issues involving young males were not given as much attention as those involving females and added that beyond the physical maturation of young males (semenarche), the challenges of male development and behaviours were not fully addressed
He said the tone of the presentation in effective SRH education was “challenged as information was often presented from a negative or reactive perspective as exemplified with the introduction to the adolescent reproductive health section in the social studies curriculum.
Prof Asare said the curricular focused heavily on the importance of abstinence and the dangers of sexual activity but with little attention to healthy sexual behaviours which the adolescent will need to know in future.
He said the fact that some adolescents did engage in sex for whatever reasons was ignored saying they needed to be supported with the necessary information and resources to enable them to protect themselves and make health decisions.
The report dubbed: From paper to practice: Sexual reproductive education policies and their implementation in Ghana, was made possible by grants to the Guttmacher Institute from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Cooperation Agency.
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