Friday, September 22

Stakeholders agitate for CHE as a standalone subject

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By Yunus S Saliu

Disseminating the Comprehensive Health Education (CHE) midline research findings at the Gambia College last Thursday, various stakeholders including the lecturers at the School of Education at the college were in the opinion of making the Comprehensive Health Education a standalone subject for effective delivery.

The CHE project team under the Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate (CREDD) unit of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Education (MoBSE) commenced the dissemination of the CHE midline research findings on the 24th July 2023 with various stakeholders which include MoBSE, CSOs/NGOs, UN System, MoH, Youth Associations, School Principals, Communities and among others.

Speaking at the forum on behalf of the Director of CREDD – Momodou Jeng was Mr Michael Hamadi Secka of CREDD saying curriculum goes round as it is never completed while defining it as “a total sum of activities that goes not only at the school but also outside the school.”

He said CHE is a very important subject that discusses the reproductive health of in and out-of-school adolescents while calling on everyone to strengthen access to quality comprehensive health education in The Gambia.

He reminded them of POP/FLE which used to be part of the student’s curriculum in the past though it was not an examinable subject as it was fixed into different subjects.

Mr. Secka went on that “not much respect was given to it as there were 

much ongoing unprotected sex, rampant teenage pregnancies, harmful abortions, and baby dumping. The cause of all these is because the children were not captured and not well taught about safe sex among other issues.”

Comprehensive Health Education, he stated, is helping to strengthen access to quality reproductive health education among adolescents in the country, he added.

Ms. Phebian Ina Grant Sagnia, Principal Investigator of the CHE project gave an update on the project saying the critical youth sexual and reproductive health had led in 2017 to the re-orientation of the Population and Family Life Education (POP/FLE) with the adoption of new international standards promoting a Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

And this “also resulted in the development of a Curriculum Framework on CSE by the Curriculum Directorate of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE),” she said.

The Curriculum Framework, she said, comprised various themes such as bodies, Puberty, and Reproduction; Interpersonal Relations and Communication; Society and culture; Factors of Vulnerability; Sexual and Reproductive Health; Gender; Human rights for sexual and reproductive health and well-being, and Guidance and Counselling. 

Among the research problem and rationale, she explained that the concern about adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH) has grown over the past years, due to unprecedented increasing rates of sexual and reproductive health infections, early sexual debut, teenage and unwanted pregnancies. Also, added that teenage pregnancies outside of marriage among adolescent girls, in particular, are a major cause for concern in The Gambia, where almost one in five (18%) of adolescent women aged 15 to 19 are already mothers or pregnant with their first child. (GDHS, 2013)

“Teen pregnancies constitute a major cause of unsafe abortions, which have contributed to 13% of Gambia’s maternal deaths. (GDHS, 2013),” she added.

Dr. Thomas Senghore and Dr. Hamidu Jallow presented the summary of the midline research findings,

CHE project under Strengthening Access to Quality Comprehensive Health Education in The Gambia, is funded by the International Development Research Center (IDRC). It is meant to enlighten and educate in and out-of-school students on adolescent sexual and reproductive health (ASRH).