Sex education essential for schools

There is a need for Samoa to incorporate sex education into its school curriculum, says the Samoa AIDS Foundation president, Leniu Dr. Asaua Fa’asino.

Responding to questions from Samoa Observer on how the increase in sexually transmitted infections (STI) can be addressed, Leniu said it was time for the country to incorporate sex education into the school curriculum, in order to increase awareness on the diseases. 

She said the Foundation has been working alongside various health agencies and organisations, and put in a proposal to the Ministry of Education, Sports and Culture (M.E.S.C.) sometime ago, but are yet to get a response. 

“Sex education as we would rather describe, it is actually sexuality education or sexual health. It is educating people on sexuality, their identity as a male or female, health in terms of staying clean from transmitted disease and making wise decisions. 

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“As a major part in students’ lives we feel that they have a right to know and understand these things, that’s why we have made the proposal to M.E.S.C.,” she said.

While Leniu acknowledges the country’s cultural background and religious values—which are ingrained in the lives of the people—she is of the view that the concept of sex education is appropriate from the health perspective. 

The Foundation, since its establishment, has been able to get key messages on HIV and AIDS to villages and selected schools and churches.

When she was asked if the public is gradually accepting sex education, she said it is happening slowly in Samoa and will take time. 

The delay in getting feedback from the M.E.S.C. to its sex education proposal has not dissuaded the Foundation from going ahead with its activities involving youth, added Leniu.

Next year there will be more programmes and projects to boost youth participation. Activities will include a speech competition on topics such as reducing stigma and discrimination associated with HIV and STIs, support for people living with HIV, preventing the spread or transmission of HIV and STIs, detect, refer and the treatment of HIV and STI.

According to Leniu, students from schools are encouraged to participate and the winner of the speech competition will be able to go out with Foundation to assist with its outreach programmes.

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