Sex education in schools- Kenya seeks tech alternatives

Sex education in schools- Kenya seeks tech alternatives

 

Teenagers across Africa urgently need more information about sex to combat soaring rates of HIV and unwanted pregnancies, experts say.

In Kenya, there are widespread taboos and cultural conservatism prevents discussions in schools and homes.

However, a growing number of businesses, charities and individuals are seeking to fill the gap in information.

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and Nailab, a Kenyan firm that supports technology startups, are behind the latest initiative, which targets entrepreneurs for their ideas on providing sex education through technology and social media.

“All girls, all boys must have comprehensive sexuality education,” said Babatunde Osotimehin, UNFPA executive director. “That’s really when they can make the choice in their lives.”

Kenya pledged to improve access to sexual education and family planning services at the 2012 London Summit on Family Planning, but has had difficulty implementing new policies due to conservative opposition.

A bill to teach sex education and provide access to contraceptives in schools was introduced into Kenya’s upper house of parliament in 2014, provoking a national outcry.

“People fear that when you’re speaking about sex or when you’re speaking about sex education, it’s like losing your values,” said David Opoti Inzofu a pastor in Nairobi.

Sex education and family planning are critical in delaying motherhood, reducing HIV rates and deaths from unsafe abortions, UNFPA says.

Some 29,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 are infected with HIV annually in Kenya, government data shows.

New infections are spiking among adolescent girls who know less about HIV transmission than boys, it says.

One in five teenage girls are mothers, with some 13,000 dropping out of school each year to raise their children, says UNFPA report.

Kenya is a hotbed of technological innovation in Africa, with technology giants such as Google, IBM and Microsoft setting up headquarters in Nairobi.

For an issue as taboo as sex, technology allows people to have anonymous and informative conversations without the fear of stigma or discrimination.

“If somebody builds software that allows people to anonymously chat about their sexual challenges, and we see tens of thousands of young people using it – that will be the most exciting part of this,” said Sam Gichuru, chief executive of Nailab.

 

 


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