… should condoms be placed in schools?
By Perseverance Javangwe
When schools were opened some time last year, the social media was awash with nude pictures and sex videos of school going children, this according to some organisations has resulted in unreported cases of teen pregnancy in the country, thereby leading to early child marriages.
This is cause for concern to most parents, organisations, pastors and even some institutions who have given different perspectives on what can be done in order to deal with this scourge that is slowly teleporting into a pandemic and can become difficult to deal with if nothing is done. Some have suggested that there is need to introduce condoms in schools since children are having sex at schools, while some have argued against that notion and said this will further the children’s sexual encounters. Some parents have even suggested that the children need to be disciplined like in the past.
“Well the last time I made my contributions before the parliament of Zimbabwe my contribution was thrown under the bus. My contribution was. Let’s put Condoms in schools. I was lionised by many and only a few sympathized with me. Their point of argument was, “by doing so you are encouraging sex in school “. My argument was, whether you choose to take it or not, Pupils in schools are engaging in sexual activities, without protection to cause more harm than good “. I talked about STIs, HIV, early or should I say unwanted pregnancies. Up to now I boldly support my point, not for the sake of arguing but to address the real issues we are having on our table,” said one human rights defender who pleaded for anonymity.
However, Ronald Murerwa beg to differ as he argued by stating, “I beg to differ on condoms in schools. It will be like legalizing sex in schools and giving them a passport to indulge wherever they are and when need arises. We can’t have that in Zimbabwe our traditional norms n values need to be respected.”
This prompted Charmaine Mundwa to argue that in as much as it is important to preserve the gains of the African culture the times we are living in nowadays demands people to act in accordance with what is at hand, other than refer to the past.
“Let’s take into consideration that this is the 21st century whereby seeing someone half-dressed or naked isn’t a shock, dating a teacher as a student is normal, doing unethical behavior is the in-thing. Yes it may seem as if initializing the placement of condoms in schools is like legalizing sex but let’s take into consideration what’s happening now, it’s better to have this solution to problems of drop outs, fatherless children, uneducated mothers. In as much as we can talk about abstinence we can’t control kids, we can educate them on the effects and possible results of STIs, teen pregnancy, abortion and the like, but we still come back to the fact that we don’t have control over what is happening now. In the past it was okay to smack children but now it’s a big deal, you can be arrested. What’s the best way to avoid a disastrous future than giving them a choice?” she asked.
On the other hand, the policy adopted by the government of Zimbabwe has come into scrutiny with some claiming that children are now doing what they feel they want to, knowing fully well that the law protects them from any form of punishment. But some parents still feel there is a need to discipline children the African way.
“Even Kurova chaiko. Mamwe maitiro acho unotowona kuti yave shamhu Ino lacker zvichinzi heeh marights (Some children’s behavior just demand us to beat them. Some are now doing it on purpose just because of the so-called rights). We are slowly turning into a western country where children are told that they are grounded. Parents need to deal with these kids the African way. Because if you notice the confidence they have doing what they do (sexting, sex videos, photos) it tells us a lot kuti vato nhinhi (they have become a problem),” added another parent who identified himself as Mr Phiri.
Mai Chiwoniso a vendor at Mbizo 1 told this reporter that there is need for parents to take care of their children. She says that parents should be able to converse in a proper way with their children so that they open up and get proper help and education.
“It’s like an alarm to all parents in Zimbabwe because it shows us somewhere somehow that we have failed to teach our children good morals. Home is the best training center. Placing condoms in high schools it’s like promoting premarital sex and early marriage. On the other hand children forget their backgrounds when they are around their peers they want to fit within the environment, without foreseeing the consequences. Let’s learn to engage our children well, we should talk to them in a good manner so that they open up and when they do that it becomes much easier to help them,” she said.
“Children must be taught sexual education from an early age. They must be discouraged from associating with bad friends to avoid peer pressure. They must go to church and be involved in youth activities where they will be taught by youth advisors on sex education. As a parent l must have time with my child and educate her on the same issue and monitor the type of friends she associates with. Mwana ngaazive kukosha kwemuviri (children should value their body) and as a parent she must be your friend as well. Haafanirwi kuregerwa achienda kumaparty ausinganzwisisi, kuongorora shamwari nemaitiro emwana zvinobatsira (Let’s always monitor our children’s ways of doing things, they should not attend parties that we are not sure of). Providing condoms in schools is a big no for me, we are Africans let’s value our culture. Girl child needs protection from an early age,” added a parent identified as Mai Shupikai.
Meanwhile human rights advocate, Dwight Ndlovu said that there is need for more Sexual Reproductive education through advocacy and more awareness campaigns.
“We need strong advocacy and the time for that is now. If we fail to do that, nine months down the line we shall see babies, newly born, we shall witnesses abortions, we shall witnesses child headed families etc. In fact, Sexual Reproductive Health lessons should be consistently be taught in school nowadays. Teach kids how to wear a condom, advantages of wearing it and the disadvantages also then live them on food for thought mode,” said Mhike a human rights advocate.
Henis Muzopa a pastor from the ZAOGA sect says that the introduction of condoms in schools does not merely solve this problem, but he says there is need for a cultural way of teaching the children moral ways. He also stated that there is need to create God fearing marriages that will bear God fearing children.
“The introduction of condoms in schools is nowhere near the curbing of the current prevailing situation, we have found ourselves in. Introducing condoms is pouring paraffin into the fire. Proverbs 22:15 clearly says, Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him. What we are hearing in our schools is a true manifestations of foolishness bound up in our children and demands a spanking.
“…these children can be helped by us as a whole nation by accepting our mistakes, failures and missing the mark. What is happening now in the nation is a result of drifting away from the laws and commandments of the creator. Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, and the people whom he hath chosen for his own inheritance. It would be a blessed nation, Zimbabwe if all our leaders would choose God. It will cascade even to the lowest level of our education systems. Headmasters and teachers needs to uphold prayer, God’s word as integral part of our curriculum.
“Proverbs 1:7 says, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. When we begin to acknowledge God in our nation and allow his word to be taught in schools, we will definitely see a change in character and behaviour in all schools. There is no fear of the Lord in our children at every level. Ecclesiastes 12:1 says, remember now thy creator in the days come not, nor the years draw high, when thou shalt say, I have no pleasure in them. When young people remember their creator in the days of their youth, they will do far much better and they will be preserved.
“One of the most important institutions that has been ignored in trying to raise a God fearing children is the institution of marriage. Children come from different families and marriages. So Godly families can be strong foundations in building the moral fibre of these youths. Broken families also have contributed massively to the moral decay in schools. If only these kids would come out of morally sound families going to school, the behaviour would be much better. A family is a set up where we must have a God fearing mother and father who can instruct their kids in the paths of the Lord. Proverbs 22:6, train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not depart from it. So the word of God is clear to us as parents who should play a part in training these children. If they are well trained, when they go to school, they will know how to behave,” said Rev Muzopa.
Social and political analyst Robert Nhari argued that the schools should play their part in parenthood while making sure that the disciplinary committees are playing their role in dealing with misbehaving children.
“The schools should maintain the calibre discipline that used to exist. We want to maintain that humility that used to be there. Let’s not destroy humility but promote it. A good school must maintain all the moral calibre. Any student found wanting on those morals has to be disciplined. There must be counseling. There must be a stage where a disciplinary committee must stand and do its work. When I view most schools, there are no disciplinary committees that deal with these issues. Yes, the disciplinary committees are there on paper but they are mediocre.
“We want discipline in schools and committees should have a strong voice to control that. There should be parenthood from school as well as from home. By moral understanding I must trust the schools to do their work and when the child comes back home as a parent I must control my child. Schools are losing that parenthood and it makes no sense introducing a boarding when it cannot maintain that parenthood,” said Nhari.
The numbers of children falling pregnant in schools have increased recently prompting the government to formulate a policy that allows pregnant girls to continue with their studies.