Reproductive health education to pupils and students in primary and schools should be legally binding to enable youths become good future fathers and mothers.
This was said by students and teachers from various schools within Dodoma Municipality at a meeting to discuss a draft bill for Safe Motherhood Law (2012) here on Thursday. “We have nowhere else we can get this knowledge except in schools, we are not learning to practice immediately but it is vital as we are future fathers and mothers,” said, Charles Chunga a Form III student at Jamhuri High School.
The draft prepared by the Tanzania Women Lawyers Association in collaboration with Care International and White Ribbon Alliance aims at addressing critical challenges facing mothers, newborn and teenagers among others in accessing reproductive health services.
“I propose that the bill should indicate that pupils at Standard Six and Seven should be taught issues related to reproductive health and for those who will make it to secondary schools should continue to get the education otherwise we will live in darkness,” said another student, Andrew Malale from Kikuyu Secondary school.
Malale supported the proposal which states that parent’s consent should not be mandatory in the event an adolescent wants to get access to contraceptive services. Another Form III student from Jamhuri Secondary School who identified herself with one name of, Margaret noted that the education should be offered to boys and girls who have reached puberty.
“Without putting emphasis on this matter, ignorance will prevail and many girl pupils and students will continue to encounter unexpected pregnancies,” she said. However, Edward who is also a Form Three student from Jamhuri, stressed on the importance the plan insisting on a total abstinence but warned that adolescents are so daring and thus they should be thoroughly informed.
English teacher at Jamhuri High School, Mr Yusuph Swalehe noted that the education was vital but emphasized that parents should also be keen in shaping behaviours of their children. “Students of today are swimming in a pool of immorality, we can shape them in schools but parents have a key role to play in things such as dressing code which in a way may attempt a boy to approach a girl,” he said.
Presenting the summary of the draft, the Care International Project Officer, Mr Kanuth Dimoso, noted that the bill was intended to protect the rights of mothers and adolescents in accessing reproductive health services. The move stems from another stakeholders’ meeting held in June, last year and attended by the Parliamentarians for Safe Motherhood Group (PSMG) which underscored the need to formulate a law to curb maternal and infant mortality.
According to Mr Dimoso, the bill has various parts which address issues of access to contraceptives and family planning, maternal and new born health as well as sexual and reproductive health of adolescents. Others include termination of pregnancy, HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and harmful practices affecting sexual and reproductive health.
Earlier, while presenting the safe motherhood bill concept and rationale, the Care International Advocacy for Improved Maternal Health (AIM) Manager, Mr David Lyamuya noted that the move had been necessitated by gaps found in various laws. He noted that some of the existing laws have had gaps related to Maternal Sexual and Reproductive Health (MSRH).
By ABDULWAKIL SAIBOKO, Tanzania Daily News