Regional CSOs Dialogue on Comprehensive Sexuality Education
Theme: Engaging CSOs in the implementation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE)
7-9 December 2017
Health Development Initiative (HDI) in collaboration with the Rwanda Education Board and the Ministry of Health, with the support of PROMUNDO are holding a two days Regional dialogue meeting for CSOs bringing together different partners from Ministries, Regional Economic Committees and CSOs within the East and Southern Africa (ESA) Region including Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia to openly discuss and share knowledge and best practices on the engagement of CSOs in the implementation of CSE in respective countries.
Over the last decade, countries in the Eastern and Southern Africa (ESA) region have taken major strides toward the development and incorporation of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in their school curricula. These programmes are designed to counter the threat of HIV and other STIs, help protect young women against unintended pregnancies, provide the necessary skills to develop effective decision-making and communication skills, explore values and attitudes, and ensure that young people are made aware of risk-reduction skills.
The Ministry of Education through the Rwanda Education Board has made impressive progress in the adaption of strategies to implement Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Reproductive Health for young people in line with the ESA commitment, including the integration of CSE in the competence based curriculum for primary and secondary education. However, the current policies and strategic plans with regard to CSE mention very little about the role of Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in the development, implementation and/or monitoring process. This has considerably been limiting the involvement of CSOs in educating young people about their sexual health and advancing the adolescent sexual and reproductive health and gender rights through CSE.
It is therefore in this context that a two days regional dialogue has been organized by HDI to share experiences and discuss on how CSOs in the region can be fully engaged and support respective countries in advancing the implementation of CSE in respective countries. This regional meeting comes at the time when there is increasing concern about the number of adolescent and early teenage pregnancies and risks for HIV infection. In Rwanda, according to the most recent DHS 2015 statistics, 5.5% of teenagers aged between the ages of 15 and 19 have had a live birth, 1.8% are pregnant with the first child while 7.3% have begun childbearing.
The objectives of the regional dialogue are:
- To provide a high-level learning platform for regional CSOs to exchange best practices and challenges in the implementation of CSE;
- To identify and deliberate on the opportunities available for civil society engagement in CSE implementation and Monitoring; and
- To reinforce synergy and collaboration between CSOs and governments in the implementation of CSE in the region.
In his remarks, Dr. Kagaba Aflodis thanked participants from all the invited countries for honoring the invitation to come and share their experiences with other sister countries within the region.
“Seeing you here is a show of commitment because I know this is a busy time of the year, I therefore recognize your commitment in attending this dialogue. This meeting came from many ideas of different people and for you to be here was a thought through process because we wanted people who are doing great work in the field of CSE. This platform will also be used to identify challenges in the implementation of CSE. It is also my hope that together we shall be able to identify how we can collaborate at both the national and regional level.”
In the dialogue, there are invited delegates from Zambia and Zimbabwe to share with participants their experience in the implementation of CSE in their respective countries considering that a lot of work has been done in the implementation of CSE in both countries.
Speaking on behalf of PROMUNDO, Ms. Kazimbaya Shamsi said that Promundo is excited to partner with HDI and the others involved in organizing the dialogue because they see comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) as an important part of promoting young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights and in preventing violence.
“Comprehensive sexuality education is an important strategy to ensure young people are provided with age-appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically accurate information. It includes structured opportunities for young people to explore their attitudes and values, and to practice the decision-making and other life skills they need to make informed choices about their sexual lives,” she said.
She also applauded the Government of Rwanda for the commendable progress made so far in the implementation of CSE.
“The Government of Rwanda can be commended for its work to develop and advance CSE in our country. We look forward to this meeting as an opportunity for civil society partners in Rwanda to gain greater understanding and involvement in the CSE policy, and to learn from partners across the region who are doing great work to strengthen comprehensive sexuality education across Eastern and Southern Africa.”
In 2014, Ministers of Health and Education in the ESA region attended a meeting in South Africa during which they approved the Ministerial Commitment on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and Sexual and Reproductive Health Services for Adolescents and Young People in ESA (UNAIDS, 2013a). This commitment outlined goals and needs for countries to consider. An accountability framework aimed at tracking countries’ progress was signed and countries were expected to be evaluated against its targets (UNAIDS, 2013b)
HDI (Health Development Initiative)-Rwanda is a non-governmental, non-profit organization based in Kigali. Using a rights-based approach, HDI promotes sustainable development, community-based interventions, such as disease prevention, health training, and capacity building at both an individual and institutional level through its four main working areas: Sexual and Reproductive Health And Rights, Community Health and Development, Advocacy and Accountability, and Medical and Technical Support.