By Chol Makol Riak
The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) on Friday conducted a one day stakeholders’ workshop in Jonglei state’s capital, Bor.
The workshop is on the overall Goal of Advocacy with the Education Managers on “Comprehensive Sex Education” (CSE) meant to enlighten managers to protect children and advocate for their health, well-being and dignity by providing them with necessary toolkits for knowledge, attitudes and skills.
Dhieu Sunday Majak works for UNHCR. He said that the advocacy forum for education managers comes as response to communities call on inclusion of sex education in primary education.
“The communities’ feedback from different fora was that children are the ones who get to sexual relation in their early age even before the parents decided when and who to marry. So as a result they told us that we need sexual education to be included in primary education so that our children will learn to know how their body develops and also in relation to engagement on early sex can contribute to failure in achieving their desires,” Sunday said.
Sunday added that the forum was fruitful adding that it is something applicable.
“Today as they discussed, they came up with an action plan to tell us that this is something that they want, the ministry of education has accepted to take the lead in trying to look for an expert to be able to develop modules, life skills modules on sexual education that can be taken along with primary education,” Sunday said.
He added that “in case of any outcome and if in any case the ministry of education which is now a focal ministry for this particular task will need any help from UNHCR we will cordially provide whatever support they need as part of our support for the government of Jonglei state”.
Hellen Akech Marial, a member of Jonglei state legislative assembly said that it is good that this meeting has come to an end with a good yield.
“We were all mindful of our children, and also we were all mindful of our cultures, norms, and believes which do not allow us to talk about sex anyhow but in a long run we came into an agreement and that is why we categorized the levels that should be taught this sex education and we have agreed that it should be from the upper primary to secondary this is an achievement for today. As people come up with policies they don’t just come out of the blue and say this is a policy, it starts like this,” Helen said.
Hellen added that sex education will help prevent school dropout and early marriages.
“Talking about this programme, it would not only benefit girls but it will also benefit boys because if boys abstain from early sex it is the same way the girl child will abstain because it has to come from these two genders, we shouldn’t end this here, action plans should be developed to make sure it is implemented,” Helen stated.
Simon Manyok, a Human rights advisor to Jonglei state governor said the sitting was very crucial adding that it would lead to the improvement of education system in Jonglei state and South Sudan as a whole.
“We have done this meeting today (Friday) and what we are waiting now is the Ministry of education should take the full responsibility with the partners, this sex education is new to us. It is not too late to adopt sex education,” Simon said.
He stated that we are changing our country through education and thus it needs a lot of work to be done.
“We have seen many cases of school dropout, early marriage and things like STI and this is because the government has not paid attention on these cases and that need to be made as soon as possible to mitigate such cases affecting the community,” he said.
Meanwhile, in his closing remarks, Diing Akol Diing Legal advisor to the governor of Jonglei state said family is the foundation of any nation in the world.
“Family is the foundation of any nation or any society, so, when we discus issues to deal with our children we are discussing a very important issue in their life because we want our families to continue after us,” Diing said.
Diing urged parents and teachers to have time with children and be friendly to them.
“If we don’t give spaces to our children to discuss and be friend to them in our homes or school then they will be taken by unknown group on the streets and become their friends because they are lacking friendship at home and at school. Teacher is very important and children are very sensitive they know which teacher is friendly to them and which teacher is hostile to them and that’s why you can find that others may like a subject because of the teacher who is teaching that subject,” Diing added.
He urged the state ministry of education to own the idea of incorporating sex education in the curriculum. The one-day workshop was attended by different key line ministries which include; ministry of education, ministry of gender child and social welfare, ministry of health, state members of parliament and other sectors.