Improve Teaching of Sexual and Reproductive Health in Educational Institutions

A call has been made to improve the teaching of Sexual and Reproductive Health (SRH) in educational institutions to ensure increased awareness of reproductive health among adolescents. This has become necessary because, the provision of accurate and comprehensive SRH education is necessary to ensure healthy sexual and reproductive lives for adolescents. The call was made at workshop to disseminate research findings on “Sexuality Education in Ghana: New Evidence from Three Regions” a study conducted by some faculty from the Department of Population and Health, UCC and researchers from Guttmacher Institute. The UCC faculty who participated in the study were Prof. Kofi Awusabo-Asare, Dr. David Teye Doku, Prof. Akwasi Kumi-Kyereme, Mr. Kobina Esia-Donkoh and Dr. Joshua Amo-Adjei whilst the researchers from Guttmacher Institute were Melissa Stillman, Sarach Keogh, Ellie Leong and Akinrinola Bankole. The study was sponsored by the Guttmacher Institute with grants from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency. Making a presentation on the research report, the lead researcher, Prof. Awusabo-Asare said the study was conducted in the Greater Accra, Brong Ahafo and Northern regions in 2015. He said few students reported learning about all topics related to contraception, gender and SRH rights, and interpersonal skills. He indicated that teachers believed that adolescents should be taught some issues relating to healthy sexuality. However, he noted that some messages conveyed to the students were reportedly fear-inducing and judgmental, emphasising that “sex is depicted to be dangerous and immoral for young people.” Touching on the recommendations of the study, Prof. Awusabo-Asare said there was the need to strengthen efforts to demystify and desensationalise sexuality among adolescents. The lead researcher called for continuous sensitisation of the community, teachers and school heads, in the provision of SRH education and related skills to adolescents. He also said there should be priority on comprehensive and rights-based focus to SRH education at the primary and junior high school levels to ensure that students receive essential age-appropriate information and skills prior to initiating sexual activity. Prof. Awusabo-Asare said the report also called for the introduction of wide range of topics in the core subjects of senior high schools, and investment in teaching and learning materials and other resources to promote SRH education for the healthy development of adolescents. Also, he said teachers should be adequately prepared to deliver accurate, appropriate and effective information to their students. He further emphasised the need for active engagement with key stakeholders including community opinion leaders and school boards regarding the current evidence relating to SRH education in order to improve support for teaching a broad range of topics that go beyond abstinence. The programme brought together some stakeholders like queen mothers, health workers, educationists, teachers and journalists. Stakeholders at the workshop called for a comprehensive policy that will prioritise the teaching of sexual and reproductive health education in schools. The workshop was chaired by the Provost of the College of Humanities and Legal Studies, Prof. Dora Edu-Buandoh.