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Lack of Sexuality Education Fuelling Moral Decay Among Youths in Acholi

The Acholi region is experiencing significant sexual and reproductive health challenges like teenage pregnancies, early marriages, HIV and gender-based violence, habits which, according to leaders, have increased greatly during the COVID-19 lockdown, when movements were restricted, while schools and places of worship remained closed.
01 Aug 2021 09:38
a group of excited youth dancing outside Pece War Memorial Stadium in Gulu during FUFA Drum Football tournament - Photo by Dominic Ochola

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Parents and local leaders in Acholi are concerned about the ever-increasing moral degeneration among the young people in the region. They attribute this to the lack of sexuality education.

The Acholi region is experiencing significant sexual and reproductive health challenges like teenage pregnancies, early marriages, HIV and gender-based violence, habits which, according to leaders, have increased greatly during the COVID-19 lockdown, when movements were restricted, while schools and places of worship remained closed.

Meanwhile, Christopher Ocan, the Amuru District Inspector of Schools says the current lockdown has rendered children especially in urban centres redundant, and they are now at liberty to engage in socially unacceptable behaviours.

During the first lockdown from March to September 2020, more than 17,000 teenage girls were impregnated and a significant number of them married off. According to Phoebe Ayoo Obol, a parent and Woman Councilor for Patiko and Owor in Gulu District, the closure of these key institutions is breeding moral decay.

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But Patrick Robert Larubi, a rights activist and a former teacher attributes the immorality among young people to a lack of sexuality education both in homes and schools.

Sexuality education is defined as teaching about human sexuality, including intimate relationships, human sexual anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexually transmitted infections, sexual activity, sexual orientation, gender identity, abstinence, contraception, and reproductive rights and responsibilities.

But the topic has over the years triggered debate amongst Ugandans with many parents opposing the introduction of the country’s first sexuality education program for schoolchildren. They argue that it is taboo to teach sexuality education outside the family and at a young age. But according to Larubi, this is the missing link.

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Musician Justice Obol asserts that the current information era and internet evolution around the globe has exposed children to western lifestyles that undermine African traditional values and norms.

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However, Ismail Mulindwa, the Director of Basic Education in the Ministry of Education and Sports told URN in a phone interview that the Ministry has incorporated sexuality education into the lower secondary school curriculum. Mulindwa explained that sexuality education has not achieved the desired milestone because it was interrupted in 2016 when Parliament banned its implementation in schools following concerns raised by the religious leaders in the country.