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Benefit of Sex Education in Nigeria

Benefit of Sex Education in Nigeria

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Published by: gold2k4all9282 on Jun 09, 2011
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Understanding Human Sexuality Seminar Series 3
Ifeoma M. Isiugo-Abanihe, PhD
Institute of Education University of Ibadan Nigeria 
Comments on
Benefits of Sexuality EducationFor Young Persons in Nigeria
ADEMOLA J. AJUWON, MPH, PhDAfrican Regional Health Education CentreDepartment of Health Promotion and EducationCollege of Medicine, University of IbadanNigeria
March 24, 2005 Lagos, Nigeria 
 © ARSRC 2005
The need to focus attention on various aspects of the development ofadolescents and youth, particularly their sexual and reproductive health, is aglobal phenomenon. This has been highlighted by several internationalconventions (ICPD, 1994, CEDAW, 1979) and agreements to which manynational governments, including the Nigerian government, have expressedstrong commitment. Young people all over the world are growing up in anincreasingly complex environment that requires them to take tougherdecisions, often without adequate preparation. Although it is generally knownthat the period of adolescence is a phase in life when young people areparticularly vulnerable to many risks, especially in relation to their sexuality,they often lack access to adequate information, counseling and services onissues crucial to their development needs.With the negative effects of modernization and a multiplicity of other factorswhich tend to reduce the ability of families to effectively educate and take careof their young ones, there is an urgent need for governments, non-governmental organizations and the civil society to implement effectiveintervention strategies that will promote the well-being of young people. Thereis need for stakeholders to provide relevant life skills education to addressspecific development problems being faced by young people, particularlythose of sexuality and reproductive health.
Comments on Paper
In the paper, “Benefits of Sexuality Education for Young Persons in Nigeria”,delivered by Ademola Ajuwon, the presenter prepared a concise andinformative write-up that highlighted the need for, benefits and challenges ofproviding sexuality education for young people in Nigeria. The paper is highlyuseful in that it documents some of the successes of sexuality education inNigeria and makes projections for more successful implementation.Similarly, this discussion paper, following the outline of the presenter, focuseson the conceptual definitions provided by the writer, the benefits of sexualityeducation, its lessons and challenges and analyses the apparent strengthsand weaknesses of the presentation.
Definition of Concepts
The paper commenced by defining some key concepts, including sexualhealth, and sexuality education. However, a major omission observed wasthat sexuality, which is a fundamental concept in the understanding ofsexuality education, was not defined.Sexuality, according to a definition by the WHO, is a central aspect of beinghuman throughout life and encompasses sex, gender identities and roles,sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction. Sexuality isexperienced and expressed in thoughts, fantasies, desires, beliefs, attitudes,
values, behaviours, practices, roles and relationships. Sexuality is oftenbroadly defined as the social construction of a biological drive (WHO, 2002)which often deals with issues such as whom one has sex with, in what ways,why, under what circumstances and with what outcomes a person engages insex (NACC, 2002). Thus, sexuality pertains to the totality of being human -being a female or male - and this suggests a multidimensional perspective ofthe concept of sexuality which is shaped by biological, psychological,economic, political, social, cultural and religious factors operating within theparticular context of young persons in each society.Despite many benefits of sexuality education as highlighted in Ajuwon’spaper, some programmes of sexuality education in Nigeria have faced steepopposition. This is perhaps due to lack of a clear understanding of whatsexuality and sexuality education mean, as there seems to be widespreadmisconception that sexuality is all about issues related to sexual intercourse.Therefore, a clear definition of the concept of sexuality by the writer shouldhave been a necessary step in defining the scope and content of sexualityeducation.Furthermore, the writer’s definition of sexuality education as the process of“providing information, skills and services that enable persons adopt safesexual behaviours, such as abstinence, and non-penetrative sex is equallynarrow and misleading. This definition seems to portray sexuality education asa process that is primarily concerned with either having sex or lack of it. Thepresenter also seemed to suggest that sexuality education should be optional,since, according to the paper, it is meant to provide knowledge to someindividuals who lack necessary knowledge and skills to express their sexualdrive safely and enjoyably.This proposition is not acceptable. It lacks comprehensiveness since itaddresses only an aspect of the need for sexuality education. Sexualityeducation should be for all young persons since (according to the writer) itspurpose is to achieve sexual health, which is not restricted to the act of havingsex, but refers to “ a state of physical, emotional, mental and social well beingand not merely the absence of disease, dysfunction or infirmity”.
Comprehensive Education
In view of the foregoing, sexuality education should be conceived in acomprehensive manner that involves the use of integrated, multi-sectoralapproaches. An example of a programme that adopts the integrated approachto sexuality education is the Integrated Family Life Education (IFLE) projectbeing operated by the Centre for Population Activities and Education forDevelopment (CEPAED) in various parts of the Niger Delta since 1996(
Isiugo-Abanihe et al, 2002; Isiugo-Abanihe and Ofrey, 2002 
).The Integrated Family Life Education Approach to sexuality educationaddresses young people’s sexuality and reproductive health needs within thecontext and in response to other development needs (including social,environmental or economic) which may be affecting their sexuality andreproductive health. This is an interactive approach to sexuality education that

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