Two weeks ago I published a column that said prevention campaigns that focus on abstinence and be faithful (the AB of the ABC) are not effective. I received a number of comments from readers — obviously the hard core, stubborn religious zealots responded with criticism and espoused their traditional (ineffective) values but I did receive some refreshing comments on the actual realities why AB doesn’t work. I am hoping to publish these comments soon once I get permission from those readers.
How does this connect with some of the following questions: What are kids learning at school? Do the schools or churches promote ABC? Or more A than B or C? Is there another C — circumcision? Teachers are considered the fountains of knowledge. Students will believe everything the teacher says — the teacher is always right — especially at a young age, students will not question. And in Malawi education system, where most public schools often don’t have textbooks, the teacher is the library of information. But often the teachers can get it wrong, brainwash your child, plant ridiculous lies in the heads of fertile minds. I have had nieces and nephews come home from school with prophecies of doom and warped political views.
In New Zealand, pupils at a secondary school recently received sex education pamphlets published by the American based Bible Baptist Publication which describe women who have premarital sex as “cheap prostitutes” and say unwed couples who live together are “habitual and irresponsible fornicators” and “death and hell” await gay couples. This is such hateful nonsense that corrupts children and fosters bad attitudes, stigma and discrimination.
So, parents have you ever thought about what your kids are learning at school and church about sex education? Are they learning to be well informed, have good morals and values that accept people’s lifestyle choices (co-habiting couples or gay couples) and they themselves (your children) are equipped to live a life that minimises their risk of HIV infection. Education should be about equipping young minds with the tools to navigate through life (the realities of life where people have sex when they are teenagers!). These tools or life skills uphold human rights, build children into global citizens that make decisions informed by good evidence not someone’s malicious rhetoric.