Education and Training Sector Strategic Plan is a Government document that lays out plans which are meant to improve the education sector in general. In it, are priority areas to be addressed and the strategies thereof. One area that is planned for is health literacy. The abstract of it is that the document outlines the need for a healthy human capital and environment for Botswana to prosper economically and socially. Likewise, certain attitudes and knowledge geared towards improving the community health system ought to be inculcated to our students in schools. Emphasis is also made that health education ought to be done starting from our homes.
This submission is purely my own representation, not based on any research. For some time now, social media has been awash on the issue of whether or not condoms should be provided in secondary schools. I guess this is driven by the need to reduce and eventually stop the ever increasing teenage pregnancy of school-going students. This is also in line with our aspirations of having a zero infection rate of sexually related diseases by 2030. Being a high school teacher, I often engage my students on sexual education. These informal discussions reveal more than what one would bargain for. The fact of the matter is that our secondary school going-students do engage in sexual activities. The extreme revelation is that some had their first encounter at primary schools. Let us remember that at senior secondary school, we are dealing with learners whose age range mostly between 16 to 20 years. Biology would support our understanding of such occurrences in this case. Hence the discussion of whether or not we should provide condoms in schools.
I am of the view that we still need more sexual education, not only targeting the youth but also include the elders. My take has always been that we often have a negative attitude towards these condoms. We associate condoms with reduction in sexual gratification. I remember having a related discussion with three friends at one bar in Maun. One of them who is a lady, bluntly said that ‘waitse khondomo yone ke turn-off hela’ (I lose sexual appetite whenever a partner reaches out for a condom). Such is the belief that most of us hold with regard to sexual protection using a condom. We should then ask ourselves, is the solution in the provision of further condoms in schools or more sexual education? Let us start here, condoms are easily accessible. They are provided for by our good government in clinics, hospitals, bars, offices and many other strategic places. Those that do not prefer these free sexual protection resources, do easily access condoms at almost every shop. I therefore believe that using or not using a condom is a matter of choice. It has very little to do with accessibility of these sexual protection instruments. If access to condoms was such a problem, then pregnancy rate would have been so high that more than half our secondary going female students would be pregnant every year.
One other factor contributing to teenage pregnancy of school going students is the inter-generational sex. It is almost close to a fact that most students are impregnated by elderly males. Some of these inter-generational sexual relationships are as a result of economic dares, but others are purely a matter of choice. Regardless of the root course, we are at a point where we can all agree that such an anomaly is actually a reality. That being the case, are we to supply condoms in schools in order to influence rapid usage of condoms in these inter-generational relationships? Can we ascertain that these elderly men cannot access condoms in the community?
Let me conclude by expressing my concern at the high rate of teenage pregnancy of school going students. Whatever solution that would stop this unwelcome trend I will support fully, including the provision of condoms in our schools if that would make a positive difference. I just wanted to posit that we all need to change attitude towards condom use. Condoms are meant for protection of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy, not to reduce sexual gratification. As long as we are to continue viewing condoms as playing hindrance to natural mellifluousness, then we are to lose battle against sexually transmitted diseases and teenage pregnancy.