Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Schoolgirls' Knowledge of, and Efforts against Risky Sexual Activity: The Needs for Sex Education in Schools

Academic journal article International Journal of Education

Schoolgirls' Knowledge of, and Efforts against Risky Sexual Activity: The Needs for Sex Education in Schools

Article excerpt

Abstract

This study explored schoolgirls' knowledge of sexual activity and their efforts against risky sexual activity including unplanned-premarital-pregnancies in Bagamoyo district and Shinyanga district, in Tanzania. Schoolgirls in Tanzania are under considerable pressure to engage in sexual activity unrealistically, and consequently drop out of school due to pregnancy. Using questionnaire, covert observation, and focus group interviews to 96 schoolgirls, the study revealed that schoolgirls have the basic knowledge of sexual activity, and most of them are sexually active. Schoolgirls practise sexual activity but they have less negotiating power on safer sex and preventing themselves from pregnancy and HIV infections. They are also at considerable risks of sexual violence or abuse from their teachers and the 'sugar daddies' through sexual exploitation. The study, then, underscores the provision of sex education to students and the whole community as well as rethinking on how to bring up the youths in acceptable sexual behaviours.

Keywords: sexual activity; unplanned-premarital-pregnancy; schoolgirls; sex education

1. Introduction

Schoolgirls' pregnancy and poor academic performance have been the topics of discussion of many education stakeholders. As it was reported in the Daily News (Wednesday, 21st April, 2010), the trend showed that, in a number of Tanzanian parliamentary sessions, issues of schoolgirls' pregnancy and dropping out of school due to pregnancies are discussed. Statistics from the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training (MoEVT) indicates that in 2010 a number of secondary school students dropped out of school due to pregnancy reasons were 6345 (MoEVT, 2010). This is a worrying situation, especially for the academic, social and economic developments of adolescents. In addition, parents fear about the health of their children during this era of HIV/AIDS. HIV/AIDS refers to acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), which destroys the body immune system (Santrock, 2006).

Studies show that, many adolescents are susceptible to negative outcomes associated with sexual behaviour, particularly, those who initiate sexual intercourse at an early age, have many sex partners, or engage in unprotected sex because these behaviours put one at risks for sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV (Walcott, Meyers, & Landau, 2007).

Adolescent pregnancy and childbearing are matters of substantial national concern, yet, the analysis and description of these phenomena, much less prescriptions for altering present trends, are highly controversial (Hayes, 1987). Currently, the cultural overlapping has leftadolescents, in Tanzania for example, confused or undecided whether to abide to their traditions and customs or to fall under the cultural imperialism-the western ways of living-especially, those who get access to multimedia like televisions, internets, and newspapers. Sexual behaviours and practices are also changing day after day. For instance, there is an increase of cross-generational sex that involves the relationships between older men [sugar daddies] and young women-below age 20-although some involves relationship between older women [sugar mammies] and young men (Hope, 2007). These sexual relationships signify sexual exploitation in our society.

Sexual relationships among students are on increase and common in schools (Mgalla, Schapink, & Boerma, 1998). Students practise sexual activity, which has resulted into increased cases of schoolgirls' pregnancies, poor academic performance, and eventual drop out of schools. The reasons for the increased students' sexual activity practice have been associated with poor parenting; students' desire to satisfy their selfish, primitive sexual derives (Kelly, 2001; Santrock, 2006). Equally, some studies suggest economic factors-poverty in particular-and sexual exploitation done by adults to adolescents particularly schoolgirls (Evans, 2002; Philemon & Kessy, 2008). …

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