In another timely and important reform in the education sector, students in schools across the country will not only be taught about Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) starting this academic year, but they will also be assessed accordingly.
This decision has been made after the education ministry decided to integrate CSE into the education curriculum.
Meanwhile, CSE is a sex education subject to equip students with knowledge, attitude and skills to help make appropriate choices in their lives.
It is simply education that supports young people to develop the knowledge, skills, ethical values and attitudes they need to make conscious, healthy and respectful choices about relationships, sex and reproduction.
The importance of CSE for our young people is best summed up an UNESCO article that was published in 2018 and pointed out that only 34% of young people around the world could demonstrate accurate knowledge of HIV/AIDS prevention and transmission, and that two out of three girls in some countries have no idea of what is happening to them when they begin menstruating.
There is, therefore, an inevitable need to help prepare our young people to make well-informed decisions in a world where there are serious issues such as the HIV/AIDS, Sexually Transmitted Infections, teenage pregnancies, and gender-based violence.
Records obtained from 18 districts alone in Bhutan reported more than 237 cases of teenage pregnancy in 2020. However, social workers and advocates feel that the number could be higher as many do not report. Meanwhile, an interesting revelation was the ‘lack of awareness’ which was attributed as one of the main causes of increased incidents of teenage pregnancy. Further, it was mentioned that among these groups, children lack awareness about contraceptives.
Utilizing school sex education integrated with parents, teachers, and community groups, and increasing teenage knowledge of contraception are important if we want to seriously address the issue of teenage pregnancy.
Further, what could be alarming as a small country is the fact that nearly half of Bhutan’s population is below the age of 24 (as per the 2017 Population and Housing Census) and studies suggesting that many adolescents in the country are not aware of CSE.
Besides teenage pregnancy and suicide, we are also not only losing our close and dear ones to HIV/AIDS, but also losing people in the most economically productive and reproductive age group to the disease.
HIV/AIDS is, therefore, another major concern and what is more wanting for now is the awareness on safe sex practices or sex education.
Rather considering it a taboo, our children must be taught that unsafe sex is still the main cause of HIV/AIDS and that an unprotected sex can kill. Such important and imperative lessons can only come through a curriculum on sex education.