Stakeholders in the education sector in some states of the North West and North East have expressed divergent views on the teaching of Sexuality Education in schools and at home.
In a survey conducted by News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), some of the stakeholders said early knowledge of the subject was necessary to protect children from sex predators while others said it would corrupt morals.
Those against the idea also claimed that the two major religions in the country, Islam and Christianity, did not support the teaching of the subject to children.
In Kaduna, a mother, Mrs Okene Oloruwagba, said parents should take up the responsibility as soon as children gain consciousness of their sexuality, particularly when they start asking questions about their sexual organs.
“Parents should not hide the truth from their children, but teach them what they need to know based on their level of comprehension and take them gradually as they develop.
“The rationale is to catch them young and prevent them from getting the wrong information from outsiders who may eventually exploit them.
“If you don’t teach your children the right things about sex and how to protect themselves, someone else would teach them the wrong things and jeopardise their future.”
Mr Bayo Yusuf, the Administrator of Marafa Comprehensive School, Kaduna, said sex education should be a combine effort of parents and schools.
“Children need to know about pregnancy, the implication of teenage pregnancy and the dangers of getting pregnant out of wedlock and its implications on their future.
“When children or teenagers are properly guided about their sexuality, it would not only help in safeguarding their future, but will equally prevent teenage pregnancy and curb the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases,’’ he said.
He maintained that although sexuality education may be in conflict with religion and tradition, teaching the subject early “is a necessary evil.’’
“Let us not for the sake of religion and culture put the future of our children in jeopardy, even our religion commanded that we train our children in the way they should grow, which include sex education.
“Our society has become very complex with the growth of technology which exposes our children to obscene contents.
“This alone made it crucial for the family and schools to properly guide our children, “Yusuf said.
On his part, Malam Dahuru Anchau, a Director in the Kaduna State Ministry of Education, said mothers were better placed to teach their children about sexuality.
According to him, teaching sex education in schools by fathers will be in conflict with religion and culture, because it is not in line with African culture for men to discuss the subject with their children.
However, a teenager, Adekoniye Adeola, said that teaching sexuality education would greatly equip young boys and girls to acquire all the information they need to effectively protect themselves.
“As adolescents, we are at our vulnerable stage. We want to explore and experiment and in the long run, exposing ourselves to premarital sex that would eventually ruin our lives.
“Therefore, both parents and educational institutions have a duty to prepare us for the future, particularly by equipping us with knowledge about our sexuality and how to hold ourselves until we are married,’’ Adeola said.
Mr Muhammed Rashid, the Headmaster of Zanna Model Primary School Birnin Kebbi, said teaching sexuality in schools was necessary to stop rising cases of teenage pregnancies.
He said it should be included in schools curriculum to help young people have appropriate knowledge to guard their sexuality, stop unprotected sex and promiscuity.
Rashid, however, said the subject should be taught separately for boys and girls to avoid what he termed as `distraction’.
Another teacher in Birnin Kebbi, Hajiya Hadiza Adamu said that sexuality issues were not supposed to be hidden from children.
She argued that most unmarried teenagers who had babies were carried away by sexual feelings and emotional desires without considering the consequences of their action due to ignorance..
“In the end, they contract sexually transmitted diseases and some are compelled to go for abortion.
“Children should be exposed to sex education early in their lives so that they could have successful marital life and be useful to the society.’’
However a cleric, Ustaz Abdulrahim Shuaibu, said: ”Sex education is an intuitive knowledge and in my opinion government should not introduce sexuality in school curriculum because it will corrupt the minds of teenagers.’’
A pastor with Living Faith Church in Jega, Ahmadu Samuel said the best place for sexuality education is the home not school.
Samuel explained that God had given responsibility to parents to teach children His perspective in every aspect of life including sexuality.
“Teaching children about sexual relationships apart from promoting immorality is like teaching a child to drive a car without explaining the traffic laws ”, he said.
Also, an Islamic scholar in Gusau, Sheik Abdullahi Dalla-Dalla, kicked against the idea, saying it is in conflict with religious teachings.
Dalla-Dalla, who is the Chairman of the Ulama Council of Jama’atu Izalatil Bid’ah Wa’ikamatis Sunnah, believed that sexuality education in schools would only promote promiscuity.
“I think in the Nigerian 1999 Constitution every Nigerian is allowed to practice his religion without any molestation, therefore in this regard we Muslims should be considered because it is against our religion,” he said.
Mr Adams Laah, a parent, said:”Teaching our children sexual education in schools will divert their attention to what they are supposed to learn in class, in fact it will lead to deviant behaviours among them.
“So it has negative implications especially on child moral upbringing, even though, some health experts are saying it has advantage, but to me the disadvantages outweigh the advantages.”
Almustapha Bello, a parent, also said sexuality education would have negative implications on the training and development of children.
Bello said instead of introducing the subject, government should support the improvement of learning in other subjects.
Mrs Mary John, another parent, cautioned policy makers and stakeholders against bringing up issues that would breed arguments and misunderstandings.
She said that such issue would not help the Nigerian education sector as such “government should rather focus on improving the sector at all levels”.
In Kano, some of the stakeholders also said sexuality education was against cultural and religious beliefs of the people.
A parent, Malam Bashir Mohammed viewed the idea as “a western conspiracy aimed at breeding a culture of indecency and immorality in the society.
“Sex education has never been taught before. Our school curriculum should be made in line with our tradition and culture.’’
Malam Musa Adamu of Giginyu area of Kano, argued that the subject “will not only promote immorality among the youth but also encourage promiscuity in the society.’’
However, another parent, Alhaji Bello Usman, supported teaching children about sexuality at home only.
“If parents can explain some of the negative effects of having sex before marriage, that is ok, but I do not subscribe to the idea of teaching sexuality education in schools,’’ he said.
To Mr Ted Edodogwu, sexuality education “will prevent the children or students from getting unwanted pregnancy or being infected with sexually transmitted diseases which are common nowadays.’’
A parent in Sokoto, Malam Ahmad Abdullahi, told NAN that teaching the subject negates the norms and values embedded in Nigerian religions and cultures.
“Government and other education stakeholders should stay away from including such issue in the school curriculum,’’ he said.
Abdullahi however suggested that sexuality education could be included as a specialise course in tertiary institutions.
To Malam Musa Lemu and Alhaji Yakubu Yabo, the idea “is foreign’’ and cautioned authorities against embracing it.
According to them, sexuality education is inherent in humans and dismissed argument that it will curb spread of diseases and teenage pregnancies.
They argued that the best form of stopping such bad habits is to separate boys and girls in school to discourage sexual contacts.
They called on authorities to enforce more restrictions on access to phonographic materials and to block indecent sites on the internet.
Mrs Fausat AbdulAziz, proprietor of Founders High International school in Sokoto called for caution on the subject.
She said that stakeholders should undertake careful study on societal values, including religious sensitivities before taking a decision on sexuality education.
Amb. Sidi Ali, Chairman of Bauchi Christians and Muslims Peace Movement said the state government had banned the teaching of sexuality education in all its schools, four years ago.
Ali said that the ban was enforced through a bill submitted to the state House of Assembly by concerned citizens, which was later passed into law.
“We kicked against it (sexuality education) because it will promote social vices and it is against the religion and norms of the people,” he said.
Musa Abdullahi, a retired primary school teacher in Bauchi, described the proposal to introduce sexuality education in schools as “horrible.”
“I have seen instances where pupils were caught having illicit sex, while instances abound where female pupils got pregnant in spite of their tender age.
“If you teach them sexuality education, it means you are jeopardizing the moral upbringing of these children,” he said.
Austine Tsenzuh, a parent in Bauchi, said he supports the introduction of sexuality education, but only at the secondary school level, where, according to him,” the moulding of character begins”.
According to him, lack of such knowledge at that level will be counter-productive.
Another parent, Selya Yarnap, also subscribed to the idea of teaching sexuality education in schools, but at secondary level.
She said that the subject will make the children to be conscious of how they relate with the opposite sex, since parents shy away from teaching their children sex education.
In Maiduguri, some residents also expressed mixed feelings over the desirability or otherwise of teaching sexuality education in schools.
Malam Idrissa Abdi, a resident, who supported the move, said early information about sexuality would equip students with proper knowledge on how to handle their sex life.
Abdi noted that such knowledge was imperative to enable teenagers protect themselves from sexual abuse.
He added that it would enhance awareness on reproductive health and control the spread of Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
Another resident, Abdullahi Bako, suggested that sex education should begin from the home, stressing that it was part of the moral obligation of parents to educate their children.
“As soon as children begin to get inquisitive, parents are duty bound to educate them,” he said.
Mrs Aisha Zakari, a teacher, described education as a veritable tool of shaping the future of young children.
Zakari said that students often ask questions about the body structure and reproductive organs, which were not explicitly answered in class.
“Most teachers skip such questions, making students to resort to wrong sources to seek for answers.
“There is need for a thorough explanation of how the body works sexually and how to protect it, hence, the desirability of sexuality education,” Zakari added.
However, Malam Abdulazeez Datti, an Islamic cleric, stressed the need to exercise caution in introducing the subject.
Datti suggested that the curriculum should be designed to conform to the norms and religious values of the society.
“The sexuality education should be designed to conform to teachings of our religions.
“It should be lessons that promote good moral behaviour, aimed at encouraging good family and reproductive health,” Datti said.
Also, Mr Ibrahim Gwamna, a Christian clergy, said that sexuality education should not be introduced in schools because it was against the teachings of Christianity and portends great danger to societal norms.
Gwamna explained that such knowledge would encourage children to experiment what they learnt, thereby eroding moral values.
“Children are keen to experiment and the moment you open their eyes, you are increasing their desire to experiment,” he said.
Similarly, Mrs Hannatu Damagum, a housewife, said that sexuality education would only encourage indecent behaviours and immorality in schools.
“We should not be copying the wrong lifestyles of the Western world. In the West, morality has lost its place.’’
She suggested that government should encourage parents to teach their children, rather than introduce the subject in the school system.
Hajiya Lami Danjani, Gender Officer, Jigawa State Universal Basic Education Board, was also against the introduction of sexuality education in schools, saying it was the responsibility of parents.
“Parents, particularly mothers, should be the ones educating their children about sex, but not their teachers,” Danjani said.
She expressed the fear that if sex education was introduced in schools, many children would be sexually abused.