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Palladium at the 7th Africa Conference on Sexual Health and Rights in Ghana

Palladium's DFID-funded Ghana Adolescent Reproductive Health (GHARH) project held a successful side session to promote our work in Comprehensive Sexuality Education as part of the youth conference on sexual health and rights.

Palladium’s highly attended three-member panel discussion was moderated by Prof Augustine Ankomah, Head of Population, Family and Reproductive Health at the School of Public Health at the University of Ghana. Speakers included Dr Stephen Adu, Acting Deputy Director General of Ghana Education Service, Prof Akwasi Kumi-Kyereme, Vice Dean Faculty of Social Science, Department of Population and Health, University of Cape Coast, and Ms Astrid Korin, Education Specialist at Palladium.

The side session promoted key issues of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in Ghana, emphasising the critical need for multi-sectoral planning and implementation. Panellists discussed the need for comprehensive stakeholder engagement, particularly the role of the Ghana Education Service (GES). Given that the school environment provides the ideal opportunity to reach a majority of young people with CSE, the GES continues to play a critical role.

Speaking on behalf of the GES, Dr Stephen Adu said the organisation was ‘very concerned’ with issues of CSE, but due to the overloading of the existing curriculum and the need for teachers to be trained on the appropriate methodology, critical CSE issues are likely to find their way into the co-curriculum rather than the main curriculum.

The Ministry of Education and the GES recognise the importance of Adolescent Reproductive Health (ARH) education and aspects of ARH have been taught as parts of various subjects since 1957. According to Prof Akwasi Kumi–Kyereme, ARH issues are covered in Social Studies and Integrated Science in both Junior High Schools (JHS) and Senior High Schools (SHS), as well as other subjects in SHS. He noted that Management in Living, which is an optional subject at the SHS level, covers a wide range of ARH issues. Furthermore, ARH topics covered at the basic and secondary schools are limited and cannot be described as comprehensive sexuality education.

Astrid Korin from Palladium highlighted the importance of participatory, cross-sector planning and implementation for all health interventions through schools, including Sexual and Reproductive Health education. She also called for objectives to be aligned to and integrated with sector plans and budgets as well as other relevant national policy and strategy documents.

Through its GHARH project, Palladium has initiated collaborative dialogue and is actively engaging GES and other stakeholders at the highest management level in Ghana – advocating for integrating comprehensive sexuality education in a way that benefits all young people who go through the formal education system. This includes youth with special needs and out of school youth. Palladium advocates that equal attention be given to teacher training to ensure that teaching topics and pedagogy related to CSE are improved. GHARH continues to engage Ghanaian universities to strengthen the evidence base to inform policy formulation and implementation. Comprehensive sexuality education is critical to achieving adolescent health indicators and requires commitment from all stakeholders to make it possible.