A new look online Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) course for teachers has been launched during a virtual meeting that was attended by governments officials, teachers from Zimbabwe, Malawi and Zambia as well as other stakeholders from across the East and Southern Africa (ESA) region.
By Michael Gwarisa
The CSE Online Course for Teachers is a self-paced online course that provides teachers with access to comprehensive study material developed by CSE experts. Teachers are acquiring adequate knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are critical for effective CSE delivery. This is a way to enable teachers to deliver CSE that is age-appropriate, scientifically accurate, and transformative. UNESCO will promote this course in the region in order to ensure the delivery of good quality comprehensive sexuality education in schools.
At the onset of the rollout of CSE majority of teachers from the ESA region were deployed to teach CSE without the adequate and requisite training, a development which made it challenging to teach CSE effectively.
Giving his keynote address, Mr Joel Chimoko, the Permanent Secretary for Technical Services in the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education in Zambia said capacity building for teachers was integral in the quality delivery of CSE.
We know that CSE plays a central role in the preparation of young people for a safe, productive and fulfilling life in a world where Sexual Reproductive Health (SRH) challenges, Gender Based Violence (GBV) and Gender Inequality pose a serious risk for young people. Zambia is fully committed to deliver CSE for every child and young person,” said Mr Chimoko.
Ministers of Education and health from East and Southern Africa (ESA) affirmed their commitments to advance and achieve CSE targets at the International Conference on AIDS and STIs in Africa (ICASA) in Durban, South Africa in December, 2021.
“As we affirmed in endorsement of the renewed ESA ministerial commitment on the provision of CSE and SRHR, we want to continue to say our schools provide a significant opportunity to reach many young people with CSE and in order to leverage on such an opportunity, our teachers need to be equipped with the knowledge, skills and attitudes for effective and efficient delivery of CSE.”
Comprehensive Sexuality Education is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical, and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values that will empower them to protect their health, well-being, and dignity, as well as to develop respectful social relationships and consider the well-being of others affected by their choices. Importantly, it also helps them to understand and act upon their rights throughout their lives.
Giving Naomi Mthali, the UNESCO Project Officer for the O3 Program in Malawi said the course has now evolved and was now well positioned to reach out t many teachers than before.
“The CSE online course was developed in 2016 as as initiative between UNSECO and the UNFPA and other organizations. The rational for this is to provide teachers with skills to transfer knowledge to learners and to ensure that CSE is institutionalized in the pre-service and in-service teacher training. In terms of implementation, the course was hosted by the Foundation for Professional Development (FDP).
“The course could only be accessed through scholarships which were provided for teachers to be able to actually access the training. The course has now evolved. Between 2016 and 2021, countries access these courses through scholarships supported by UNESCO and UNFPA because the platform needed payment o be able to continue hosting the program,” said Mthali.
In 2019 and 2020, UNESCO produced a standardized in-service teachers training module which was to be used in a face to face manner. The module was also used to revamp the online course between 2020 and 2021. In 2019 and 2020. UNESCO produced a standardized CSE in-service teacher training module. In 202o and 2021 UNESCO revised the CSE online course to align with standardized in-service module.
Meanwhile, teachers who attended the virtual launch of the newly revamped online CSE teachers’ course welcomed the new development saying it would go a long way in enhancing capacity among teachers and addressing some of challenges they were facing with regards to teaching CSE.
Ms Zamiwe Shawa a science teacher from Zambia said, “As for me, when I started teaching CSE, I had not received prior training before online training on CSE. I had number of challenges, some of them include not having a clear road map as to what I should teach and when I should teach, I had to use my own dictation.
“By using my own discretion, it meant that I had to overlook certain things, I had to exercise what was appropriate for the learners and what was not. There was also no clear standardized methodology as to how I should deliver content on CSE to the learners. I also didn’t know what appropriate language to use to the learners. It was really difficult for me.”
Mr Madzima, a teacher from Zimbabwe however said they had very few challenges in terms of teachers’ ability to disseminate CSE messages to the learners.
“We however did have structural challenges at first as you are aware, we are very few teachers that are trained in that particular area and yet we are supposed to teach a number of learners who are so much excited to learn. We had challenges around enrollment. Yes we may want to teach the learners the competencies that are to do with CSE but then the workload may be too much since we are required to work with big numbers,” he said.