Should schools provide condoms to students?

HARARE - In Harare and around the country, the controversy surrounding sex education and condom availability programmes for teenagers in public high schools and universities continues.

Parents worry that sex education and condom availability encourage an increase in teenage sex, but studies across Zimbabwe and Africa as a whole repeatedly demonstrate that teenagers are already having sex at younger ages without any protection from pregnancy and disease.

Counsellors, peer educators and medical personnel have recommended the provision of contraceptives to both public and private institutions including schools and churches throughout the country as a measure to reduce HIV infections.

“Children are taught about sex, at the age of 11 most have already started experimenting with sex, this is the reality we are confronted with, and research has shown that sex is happening in primary schools, with either teachers abusing young girls or even between the school children,” said Matifadza Pakavanapo, a practising counsellor in Harare.

“There are two options presented to us as a country. We can turn a blind eye to it and hope it goes away or we face it head on by providing condoms in public places and schools.”

Many parents have dismissed this as encouraging an evil.

“We know we have teenage sex going on but does that make it right? Encouraging  condoms in schools is absurd because it makes right a vice,” Alson Muchemei, a parent based in Harare told the Daily News.
According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), by age 16; 17 percent of girls and 29 percent of boys have had sexual intercourse.

As a result, 67 percent of all births to teenagers in 2012 occurred out of wedlock (compared with 30 percent in 2000), and from 2000 to 2012, gonorrhea increased by four times among 14 to 17-year-olds.

Educational Leadership, a South African health publication, declared that sex education and condom availability programmes have failed.

It called for “chastity education” to promote self-control and the “application of core ethical values” among teenagers.

Some parents, politicians, and educators have questioned whether making condoms available should be the job of the school.

They argue that schools should be places for learning mathematics, reading and science, not how to put on a condom.

“I can’t imagine having to teach a pupil how to put on a condom, yes, times are changing but such extremes of putting condoms in the school have not yet caught up with the Zimbabwean situation,” said Paida Masunda, a Harare-based primary school teacher.

Some opponents of sex education and condom availability programmes argue that these programs violate the right of parents to educate their children about moral behaviour and religious values.

“The whole concept of putting condoms in school toilets violates Christian values; we are a Christian nation so we promote pre marital sex in the name of practicality?

Abstinence is the only way out,” said Alex Kambodza a pastor at a Pentecostal church in the capital.

It is not a secret that many high school students are sexually active today. While some are very conscious and practice “safe sex,” many do not.

Many teenagers deny that they can be victims of sexually transmitted diseases.

“We are both students, I know for a fact that I am HIV negative, where could he have contracted it from?” Maidei* a 16-year-old girl said.

This statement comes amid reports that high school boys are competing with older men for female clientele at most Harare-based brothels.

“The young boys come to us for sex, they are gentle and pay much more for the sex and the skills we teach them,” said Thandie* a commercial sex worker who practises in the Avenues area in Harare.

Pakavanapo, the counsellor confirmed that most teenagers who engage in sex are unsuspecting and have a naive approach to the reality of HIV.

“Most think that they are invulnerable. Condom availability in the schools, when combined with a comprehensive programme of sex education, would help teenagers become more sexually responsible,” said Pakavanapo.

She also said parents have a dual responsibility when it comes to the issue of condom availability and sex education.

“As a parent and as an educator, I agree with encouraging sexual abstinence and moral character among teenagers. But at the same time that we encourage sexual abstinence, we must also teach about sexual responsibility,” Pakavanapo said.

Fungai Kachidza, a peer educator revealed that sexual responsibility today means using a condom as a form of birth control and to prevent pregnancy and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases like Aids.

“Sex education teachers, guidance counsellors, and trained peer educators should be available for counselling and to distribute condoms.

Teenagers who are sexually active need to be able to get them without feeling awkward. Remember, pregnancy and disease, not abstinence, are the consequences of such embarrassment,” Kachidza said.

“Public high schools, colleges and universities are the best place to provide sex education and make condoms available to teenagers —that’s where the teenagers are, and that’s where there are adults who are trained and willing to counsel them,

“I am convinced that if teenagers openly received condoms in schools instead of in bathrooms or from friends who have had them in their pockets for months, they would be more willing to use them,” said Kachidza.

Kachidza said she is appalled that some universities do not provide condoms at their institutions.

While most universities provide condoms in their toilets, some “Christian universities” do not.

While the National Aids Council (Nac) has been lobbying for the introduction of condoms in schools as part of efforts to combat the spread of HIV/Aids, condom attitude among Zimbabweans is “next to pitiful”.

Studies that have been done have proven that both men and women have negative perceptions about the male or female condom. They have a retrogressive mentality that tells them condoms have no space in the matrimonial homes or in steady relationships.

A study by Kpoti Kitissou “HIV Infection and Condom Use in Sub-Saharan Africa” reveals yet another dimension to attitudes and perception problems when it comes to condom use.

He says condoms offer protection but do not warrant individuals a permit to be reckless.

Natsai, a student at one of the State universities said she doesn’t see the hype surrounding condoms in school toilets.

“The logic behind all this hype eludes me, really; morning after pills are available for $5 in pharmacies.

Any girl can buy them without even producing an ID, so what’s all this fuss about?

Government must simply provide a statute that makes it mandatory for condoms to be available everywhere” Natsai said.

Comments (18)

Condoms must not be distributed in schools, rather preach abstinance and organise trips with them to places like Mashambanzou, Parirenyatwa and Wilkins where AIDS terminally ill patients are housed so that they can see for themselves the results of being promoscuity.

Francis - 6 September 2013

'ln my opinion the distribution of Condoms is not right' when l was doing primary level the thing that l would no forget is something that was moraly wrong.You can teach men 2*2 = 4 but it would take me ages to memorise.Slip your tongue and say anything vulger related l would forget it nomatter.So by introducing condoms into schools we are teaching children something they would never forget .How can l forget sex lesson.I bet after those sex lesson give them both practical and theory test.You will ve suprised that most if not all will pass in flying colours.This will be an evidence that they are experimenting on daily basis during break time, lunch time, after school.Some will even request extra lessons beacuse this lesson is so sweet to them.JUst a reminder when we were doing "REPRODUCTION IN SCIENCE" who can l forget that.Let the gorvenmemt pass this l will go back to secondary scoll.

mugabe - 6 September 2013

Now educate me maybe I have just lost it. What is the mandate of the school and the church? What nonsense is this? Where in the world have you heard that? I stayed in Australia and the US and I never saw condoms being distributed in schools and churches neither did I see condom vending machines in those places. For those parents who want to propagate such sick ideas I say do not abrogate your responsibility of parenting to the schools and churches. If you want to let your school going age child use a condom then get it and give it to your child yourself. Iwe Kachidza if this is a way of keeping your job then its pathetic and again I say give the condoms to your own children and do not sell us sick ideas here. These donors want us to believed that that is what they are doing to their children when its not. SO does it mean that it is only African children who have wild hormones running in them and white children are immune. Nonsense see the context you are marketing this sick idea. The idea of condoms in schools sucks. Tertiary colleges and universities I can understand and this facility has always been there.

vongai - 6 September 2013


Jimmy - 6 September 2013

Just provide text books, science aparatus, teachers...these days and laptops...muone vana vanopasa....there is a vast world for these people to explore before they reach the dead-end of sex! Let uspromote education!

joice - 6 September 2013

Schools do not have a mandate to distribute CONDOMS. Futhermore, students come from different backgrounds and the schools should stop playing grandma & grandpas role, especially without parental approval. If "at age 16:17% of girls and 29% of boys" are sexually active, shall we therefore sacrifice the 83% of girls and 71% of girls who are sexually inactive for the lesser. It is common practice that in every whole there will always be some who do not conform. Kana mwana akachemera kudya tsono munomupa here? The best strategy is for peer educators to come up with targeted health/wellness education in hospitals eg spill house where the sexually active teenagers are attended to. As a Programme Officer I now know that most organisations push the agendas of their funders. It is not suprising that those propagating for increased use of condoms are trying to push volumes/sales, because obviously the proposed condoms to be distributed in the schools will have to be paid for. There is no free donation...someone paid for it to be made available for "free". For example the drugs "donated" in developing countries are purchased by international health organisations....therefore someone somewhere wants to make money under false pretext of "caring for 17% of girls and 29% of boys under the age of 16". Aya ndiwo marara anorambwa naPresident aya!

ROSE - 6 September 2013

The Question which we should answer as a country is, "At what age do we desire our children to start having sex?" A 10 year old can be taught how to use a condom and he can demonstrate it and goes on to actually use a condom on another 10 year old girl. Is this what we want as a nation? We can extend the debate and say, "shall we distribute condoms to gay couples?" The question to answer should be, "should we as a nation adopt homosexuality?" If the answer is NO then the rest of the debate about distributing condoms falls away. Why should our proud nation stoop so low to promote child sex! The ministry is called MINISTRY OF EDUCATION AND CULTURE. There is strong emphasis on culture. Child sex is not our culture but a Western derived one!

Gatsi Rusere - 6 September 2013

You might be shocked that surveys have shown that the most sexually active group in society the world over falls among school going pupils ,college and university students.To ignore this is for our own peril.The exposure to the cyber world has greatly contributed to cultural change effectively so on sexual activities.Just look at the age groups most affected by the HIV AIDS pandemic and you will note where emphasis for prevention is to be concentrated on.Condoms should be distributed to schools and colleges.Don't ever fool yourselves that they don't know about sex ,most of them are adolescents and this is when they are most vulnerable.

brian moyo - 7 September 2013

i certainly do not think providing condoms in schools etc will eradicate the terrifying reality we are faced with that kids are involved in premarital sex. As a christian myself and Zim being a christian country i believe teaching purity , abstinence and the virtue of being a virgin at marriage will do more good. teach the kids the reality of this life , that there is AIDS, there is HIV , there is marriage and show them the beauty of abstinence and the challenges we as parents have experienced to have lost virginity before we got married, then if t does not work we will talk of trying to provide condoms. but deep inside me i think let them touch the fire and be ablaze , only then they will understand.

shelz - 7 September 2013

@ Rose , you got a point, i love the way you put it across. for once we should stop thinking like westerns and be Zimbabwean African .... our believes both Christian and traditional upholds the doctrine of purity and abstinence before marriage, the question should be how best can we encourage our children to abstain from sex, not how to best can we avoid unwanted pregnancies and diseases NOOO!!! ITS WRONG...... TEACH AND ENCOURAGE KIDS TO ABSTAIN.

shelz - 7 September 2013

Brian Moyo, what you highlighted about the sexual activity in schools is no justification for distributing condoms. It is a call to stop it!

Gatsi Rusere - 7 September 2013

NOOOO! teach them the way of the Lord when they are still young. If you are a parent and want to teach your child the use of Condoms do it at your home, buy them teach them. If you are ashamed at home why shift responsibility, because deep inside you know its NONSENSE. We are blessed that we have larger %ges abstaining, why cant we use the large numbers to consume or influence the small unguided minority of those doing it. let us strive to teach our children the right thing to abstain by so doing we are building a better future for our children and nation. Hatidi satani nemadhimoni muno...if you let this prevail...things will only get worse.

Concercitizenned - 7 September 2013

Matifadza Pakavanapo, can you picture this: it is a parents day, and yu have been invited to your child's school. and there you are with the science teacher and you child is seating at the same side of the table with you. your child takes her hand to her bag and she brings our the remaining condom from a pack of 3 and is about to say something! do you let her proceed? what I am saying is that school children have already thier books and studies to worry about and what should be provided are books, teachers and parents support for thier education! I see this issue of sex in schools is for a minority group in schools and the best way is remove it not promote it! I do not think that it is wise to sell mbanje and other drugs in shops just because some people smoke and abuse these drugs. The best is helping these brug addicts out of the adiction and councelling them so that they see the other side! I now wonder if you if the country youths are in asfe hands with people like you giving such must think objectively so that whatever advise you give is real!!!

TaTanga - 7 September 2013


nhirab1 - 7 September 2013

i think as a nation we have abandoned a certain culture for our younger ones presumably in the name os Children rights but i feel they are getting lost wildly these youngsters. Corporeal punishment in schools used to work nowadays children rights but this is not making them better rather making them enemies of themselves. we are making or manufacturing ignorant generations daft all in the name of "rights" . i think we need to revisit this, mwana aita misikanzwa should be canned or if there is protection from the parent then should be expelled before infecting others. this is the only way out. we need strict rules in scholls. at this rate of decay in moral values and educational quality, then even BARACKS like desciplining become an option. it will be called correctional service. to bake a good product.

Peter chit - 7 September 2013

kana mubereki achida ngaatenge macondom opa mwanasikana wake kana mwanakomana wake oti chienda kuchikoro. macondom haadhuri. tengera wako mwana iwe. siyana nevana vevamwe. isu vedu tiri kudzidzisa unhu hwakanaka vachikura muna Kristu!

Gatsi Rusere - 7 September 2013

huh me too as a student i am not agree with this to distribute condoms in our schools it would make us worse and another thing they are not preparing our future as the bright of tomorrw thank if you are a voice of children please surport us as the youth today.

pamella chicha - 14 September 2015

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