What you need to know:
The curriculum. The curriculum targeting secondary school students and their teachers, praises homosexuality and masturbation as fulfilling sexual attributes among people who have consented.
Kampala. About 100 schools have been duped into training disguised homosexuality to their teachers and students, according to Saturday Monitor investigations.
In a document titled The World Starts With Me (WSWM), there is a computer-based comprehensive sexuality education curriculum which was developed in 2003 by Butterfly Works and the World Population Foundation (WPF) in collaboration with SchoolNet Uganda, young people, teachers and artistes in Uganda.
The curriculum targets secondary school students and their teachers. For instance, it portrays homosexuality and masturbation as fulfilling sexual attributes among people who have consented and one way of controlling unwanted teenage pregnancies and early marriages.
“People can also feel attracted to the same sex or both sexes. If this lasts a long time, they might be homosexuals. People are homosexual not by choice but by birth. However, if a boy forces a boy to have sex with him or a girl forces a girl to have sex with her, this is not homosexual but sexual abuse,” reads part of the curriculum document.
“Always remember you are the one who can make a decision on how and when to express your own sexuality… There are many myths about masturbation but here is the truth…masturbation is not harmful to health at all. In fact it can be a very safe way to explore your body and your sexuality,” the document further instructs.
The curriculum also advocates that if the partners are not ready for sex, they should stick to only kissing, holding hands and hugging.
The Ministry of Education, which is responsible for what children are exposed to while at school, has distanced itself from the content of the report but admitted being aware of it and the organisation, which is hosted at Embassy House, the same building which houses the ministry headquarters in Kampala.
Neither Mr Benson Kule, the commissioner for secondary education, nor the ministry’s communications officer, Mr Patrick Muinda, appeared to know more about SchoolNet, an NGO supplying computers to schools. Both officials indicated they don’t know what SchoolNet does in schools beyond the ministry’s request to supply computers to some of these institutions.
“I don’t know about this curriculum. All I know is that it [SchoolNet] supplies computers. I have never had an interface with their management,” said Mr Kule, referring this newspaper to his colleagues.
Muinda too said he was aware of the NGO but mainly in regard to supplying computers to schools.
“We don’t see them anymore. I am not sure where they are now. They used to supply computers. That is all I know. I have tried to understand what they are doing. I can’t take it lightly now. The office was closed; that is where we are now but there is a lady who still comes once in a while. I don’t know her name. We don’t have them on our ministry work plan,” Mr Muinda said.
He explained that while SchoolNet had offices within the ministry building, his communication team had taken over the space because the NGO was hardly using it.
Ms Grace Baguma, the director National Curriculum Development Centre (NCDC), denied knowledge of the curriculum, saying her first time to see the controversial curriculum was two weeks ago when the Uganda Joint Christian Council (UJCC) officials invited her team to explain the sex education content for schools.
“I have heard about it but we have never seen what it is. We are not part of this content. It is not ours. It has raised a lot of concern and it is good you are reporting on it. I have seen the organisation which is sitting at ministry of Education Embassy House on second floor. What I know is that they used to supply computers to schools. I don’t know what they are doing now,” Ms Baguma said.
This information has sparked raging controversy among the public, especially religious leaders through UJCC and parents.
Mr Daniel Kakinda, the SchoolNet director, admitted the sex content in the curriculum but was quick to add that it was revised in 2012 with financing from RutgersWPF to suit the Ugandan society.
“That is not the document we are using now. It was not designed for our audience. WPF based in Netherlands designed it but different countries were supposed to keep looking at the document and adopt what is culturally acceptable in their respective communities. They played something generic. We also had issues with it. We looked at it and developed what fits us and we are now dealing with the revised version 2012,” Mr Kakinda said in an interview with Saturday Monitor this week.
Initially, SchoolNet had been endorsed by the ministry to supply computers to schools they were partnering with in the curriculum. However, with the ban on importation of used computers in 2009, Mr Kakinda admitted it affected their business, reducing their ICT activities in schools.
According to Mr Kakinda’s explanation, following the ban on used computers, the NGO shifted its focus and concentrated on reproductive health but did not withdraw the first curriculum whose content is still circulating in schools.
“We were supplying refurbished computers to schools for free and along the way, there was this policy on importing used computers. We stopped supplying computers. Our ICT activities have reduced in the last three years. We now train comprehensive sexual reproductive health and are dealing with schools and districts top officers but also looking at how ICT can be strengthened in education,” Mr Kakinda added.
Asked whether this curriculum was submitted to the relevant government authorities for approval, Mr Kakinda replied: “We don’t have permission from NCDC. We didn’t give them a copy either. We will maybe submit it to NCDC since it has come to our attention.”
According to Mr Kakinda, Butterfly Works is responsible for the curriculum design, methods, communication with young people and production. He said WPF is responsible for its content and approach on sexual and reproductive health. SchoolNet Uganda is in charge of the curriculum implementation.
Currently, the controversial “World Starts With Me” curriculum is running in 12 countries, eight in Africa and four in Asia. The curriculum was selected as one of 18 curricula worldwide that were used to develop UNESCO’s ‘International Guidance for Sexuality Education.
The ministry officials, however, could not explain how SchoolNet went into training teachers and students on such a “comprehensive reproductive health” content with a curriculum that had never been presented to NCDC, a body mandated to develop, review and approve any curriculum for schools.
Fr Silvester Arinaitwe, the UJCC executive secretary, condemned the sex education material in the school curriculum, saying it was destined to destroy Christian values on whose foundation the country is built.
He said they have a list of schools which have been participating and added that UJCC intends to take the matter further to establish the impact the content has had on graduates from these schools.
“We have come to know that SchoolNet is implementing this curriculum. We are disturbed about the content which we have seen. We condemn it. It is very dangerous for our children. Some of these NGOs come here claiming they are going to support us in education when they have a hidden dangerous agenda. We are going to do more research and we shall act. We can’t accept this to go on in our schools,” Fr Arinaitwe charged.
Religion and education
As of 2008, out of the 15,962 primary schools that were registered in the Ministry of Education, Church of Uganda-founded schools were 5,143 (33.3per cent), while Catholic Church-founded schools were 4,794 (30.97%).
Parents-founded schools (community schools) were 1,989 (11.96) while entrepreneurs (private investors) had 1,277 schools (6.76per cent). The Seventh Day Adventist Church contributed 215 schools, Islamic (997) while government-owned 625 (4.5%).
In its 2005 curriculum teachers’ manual book, SchoolNet recognises a number of teachers for their “dedication” to implementing the sex education in their respective schools.
They include three teachers from Namilyango College, two from Moroto High School, two from Wanyange Girls SS, two from Duhaga SS and Mr Frederick Sekitale of St Peters Nsambya and his colleague. Others are two teachers from Bishops SS and another teacher from Teso College Aloet. However, some of the teachers have since been transferred to other schools.
We could not name the listed teachers because we were unable to reach them for a response to their alleged participation in the controversial sex education curriculum.
However, Mr Sekitale, one of the two named teachers from St Peter’s SS Nsambya, expressed shock at the details of the curriculum which he confessed he had not been aware of for the five years he trained with ScholNet.
He added that some of the topics they had looked at during the training were reproductive health, including one’s body changes and HIV.
“I am shocked with this information. Even in our trainings, we never had such sessions on homosexuality. We stopped going for these trainings at St Peter’s Nsambya because of manpower challenges. But I know some schools are still teaching it,” Mr Sekitale said. He added that at every end of the cycle, the teachers, together with their students, would go for an exhibition to showcase what they had learnt during the training and SchoolNet would fully take care of their facilitation.
Mr Remigious Mubiru Mungere, St Peter’s SS Nsambya headteacher, admitted his school had been enrolled on the SchoolNet programme but dropped out in 2010 because it was engaging their teachers more in off-campus activities.
“Before we admit any person to talk to our children, we first scrutinise them. We have to look at the profile, watch their CVs. If not, our children are not protected. Their file was closed in 2010. Teachers were going to train with them outside. We are no longer engaged with them. This is a good discovery and should be exposed,” Mr Mungere observed.
Mr Stephen Langa, a parent, who has seen the content of the curriculum, condemned it as a ploy to undermine family values and morals.
“It is an indoctrinating sex education curriculum. They are getting money out of it but also accomplishing their objective. This curriculum will get our children sexually active. At the same time, the people who brought the curriculum will come back to us pretending to be our saviours. They are the same people who come and say we need to legalise abortion after our young girls get pregnant,” Mr Langa lamented.
In 2013, ministers of Education and Health from 20 African countries gathered in Cape Town, South Africa and committed to advocate Comprehensive sexuality education in their respective countries starting with primary schools.
They argued that it would enable gradual acquisition of ‘information and knowledge” necessary to develop a full and healthy life and reduce sexual and reproductive health risks.
Education minister speaks out
Education minister Jessica Alupo confirmed that the ministry was represented at the Cape Town meeting by one of her deputy ministers but wasn’t sure who it was.
“I remember I sent someone there. It is not good to give a blanket ruling but Cabinet was talking about it sometime back when some technical people came and gave a highlight on how it is being portrayed and what should be done,” she said, referring this newspaper to Mr Yusuf Nsubuga, the director basic education at the ministry, for further details.
Mr Nsubuga said the ministry had rejected the original content on the controversial curriculum but their officials, including their NCDC counterparts on the HIV committee, met and extracted materials deemed suitable to the Ugandan community.
“We rejected those materials and developed those which were appropriate culturally and religiously. We know that some people are quietly using the material that is not allowed. We issued a circular that nobody should go to schools without authorisation. All should use the ones we looked at as a committee on HIV in the ministry which has NCDC officials on it,” Mr Nsubuga said.
However, NCDC maintains they have never authorised such a curriculum.
The ministry of Education, which is responsible for what children are exposed to while at school, has distanced itself from the content of the report but admitted being aware of it and the organisation, which is hosted at Embassy House, the same building which houses the ministry headquarters in Kampala.
For full list of schools enrolled in SchoolNet programme please check in Saturday Monitor Newspaper.