Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Needful Approach to Sexuality Education in Cameroon Secondary Schools

Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Needful Approach to Sexuality Education in Cameroon Secondary Schools aims to increase comprehensive sexual and reproductive health awareness and services for secondary school youths in Cameroon; through advocating for a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) approach to sexuality education in the National Guidance/Counselling terms of reference; and its adequate implementation.

Deserve has as objective: to empower adolescents and youth through appropriate information and education which promotehealthy living. This project aims to contribute to Cameroon’s growth and development through promoting a healthy and responsible adolescent population who are in most cases, part of the active population.Out of a population of 22.77 million people (World Bank, 2014), 32 % are those between 10 and 24 years (Population Reference Bureau, 2013). There is definitely going to be a huge economic and social benefit if these young people learn how to make informed and careful decisions about their lives. Mentioning informed and careful decisions, sexuality is one of such crucial domains where unbiased and evidence-based information is seriously lagging. This is not only detrimental to the psychosocial aspects surrounding a youth’s live, it cannegatively affect the young person’s health and economic live as well.

This project is an award-winning one, because of the reality of the problem is identifies and the strategy is uses to solve the problem. Seed grant winner, Desmond Nji Atanga in this idea to solve this problem strongly believes that, ‘Issues surrounding sexuality need to be demystified by teaching it in schools. Its pedagogic strategy needs not be tokenistic; it should be taught as an examinable subject.’

Discussions about sex and sexuality are still very much a rarity in most Cameroonian homes. Some anatomical lessons are offered in Biology lessons. Notwithstanding, Marinette Ning, a volunteer at Deserve, 18 year old girl at Government Bilingual High School Bamenda, confirms that the psychological, social and legal aspects are not treated. She says that, ‘I knew what menstruation was during my first experience. I felt awkward and knew nowhere to turn to. My grandmother told methat if I touched a boy, I would become pregnant. I felt even more awkward coming closer to boys.’

There is very low rate of awareness and accesses to sexual and reproductive health services among youth. According to UNFPA Cameroon (2012) publication titled ‘Why Invest in Reproductive Health in Cameroon,’ 86.6 % of youth neither have sufficient knowledge on reproductive services, facilities and needs nor adequate information on their SRHR and 60% of Cameroonian girls and women of child-bearing age do not have access to effective contraceptive methods. UNICEF (2013) adds that comprehensive knowledge of HIV among adolescents between 2008 and 2012 stood at only 29.8% for males and 25.7% for females.

Consequently, there is high adolescent fertility rate estimated at 138 per thousand women ages 15-19 (World Bank, 2011). UNFPA (2012) indicates that pregnancy and childbirth is the number one killer for girls between 15 and 19. HIV prevalence stands at 1.0% and 1.8% respectively for boys and girls 15-24 years (UNCEF, 2012). There is also a high prevalence of early marriage estimated at 1 in every 3 girls before the age of 18 years (UNFPA, 2012).

Only the Guidance/Counsellingterms of reference otherwise known as the syllabus hasmodules on sexuality education clearly outlined for Cameroon secondary schools. Yet, it is shallow in content. Many key elements that are necessary to make up a comprehensive curriculum to teach sexuality education to adolescents and youth typically between 10 and 24 years are absent. So, this project:

  • Proposes key points for a CSE to be taught in Cameroon secondary schools.
  • Orientates school counsellorson teaching CSE.
  • Advocates for the CSE curriculum to be taught in schools
  • Educates the public on the importance of CSE in solving the problem of 86.6% unawareness of youth about their SRHR.