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Friday, January 21, 2022

Uganda Catholic Church rejects sex education in schools

Frederic Musisi

The Catholic Church leadership in Uganda has slammed the government’s National Sexuality Education policy and said they will not allow it to be “introduced nor taught” in their Church-founded schools.

The bishops under the Uganda Episcopal Conference (UEC), the apex assembly of Catholic leaders in the country, said they have rejected the policy and shared their position with the Anglican and the Orthodox Churches.

“Contrary to what many people think, the Church is in favour of a positive, age appropriate, culturally and religious sensitive sex education which holds moral and Christian values. This is the task and shared responsibility of the family, Church, and the State through the schools,” Archbishop John Baptist Odama, the UEC chairman, said in a statement of the bishops’ resolutions.

The bishops made the resolution during a four-day plenary before travelling to Rome, Italy on June 12 to meet Pope Francis.

They said a team of experts from the Church was tasked to “contribute remarks and suggestions” to the policy but their “contributions have been substantially ignored”.
The clerics said the policy as it stands now contains “some valid ideas and guidelines” but “fails to answer some crucial questions in an adequate manner”.

Some of the critical issues they say were ignored include the vital role of family, children in early childhood (from three to five years) and in lower primary from (Primary 1 to 4) who will be exposed to content and life skills which are not appropriate for their age.

They say the policy contains information and life skills foreseen for higher levels being open to interpretation and practices contrary to Christian values and nonexistence of provisions or guarantees that the teachers are prepared to teach in a balanced and proper way on such emotionally charged topics.

The bishops also said they are currently waiting for their “experts to give a final evaluation of the document with further suggestions for its amendment by the competent authorities” but should it be unchanged, they will not allow it in Church-founded schools.
According to UEC’s website, there are more than 800 Catholic Church-founded schools in the country.

When contacted yesterday, the Ministry of Education Permanent Secretary Alex Kakooza said he has a private life and would not comment on office matters on a Sunday.

At the launch of the policy in March, Education minister Janet Museveni said she was “deeply disturbed to discover that sexuality education initiatives were unregulated”, exposing schools as recruitment grounds for homosexuality and other perversions.

Meanwhile, the bishops returned from Rome on Saturday. Lira Diocese Bishop Joseph Franzelli, who is on the UEC’s communications team, said most of what was discussed was “private” but said Pope Francis urged them to continue their service towards the faithful.

About Sexuality Education Policy

In March, the Ministry of Education approved the National Sexuality Education framework, which officials said was developed over two years through consultations with relevant stakeholders. The policy categorises sex education messages into five: early childhood group between the ages of three and five who will recognise forms of unacceptable body touch to develop self-awareness and refusal skills. Lower primary level of children between six years to nine will discover their talents and appreciate the changes in their bodies.

Pupils of upper primary aged between 10 and 12 are expected to be able to define their purpose and commit to sexual abstinence. The fourth category looks at lower secondary with students of 13 to 16 years old where they should be able to cope with risky behavioural vulnerability during puberty. The last category targets children aged 17 and above and emphasis is put on the role of gender and power in relationships. – Daily Monitor


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