• Lack of information and limited school enrolment to blame for increased cases of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion, STIs, including HIV, and poverty.
The 2019 theme for the International Youth Day is 'transforming education'. This day is celebrated globally every August 12.
In regard to sexual and reproductive health, this theme is timely as young people need information on where to find the youth-friendly services and the services available. Article 53 (1b) of the Constitution states that education should be free and compulsory, whereas article 55 (a) states that the state will take measures, including affirmative action programme to ensure that the youth access relevant education and training.
Among the challenges young people face is accessibility to information and limited implementation of return to school policy for young mothers. Many young people don’t have clear and appropriate information to protect themselves from unsafe abortions, HIV infections, early marriage and sexually transmitted infections, which are rampant among them.
Education will reduce myths and misconceptions in the use of contraceptives and mitigate the impact of wrong information from other sources, including peers. Lack of information and limited school enrolment are to blame for increased cases of unintended pregnancies, unsafe abortion, STIs, including HIV, and more so poverty.
Awareness campaigns, initiation of sexual education at an early age, equipping teachers with skills to provide comprehensive sexual education at an early age and eliminating myths and misconceptions among religious organisations through skill-building will transform education for young people.
As we celebrate the theme of transforming education, the government of Kenya should prioritise accessibility to education by all, while integrating reproductive health education to safeguard the health of young people. The world should also prioritise the theme to ensure parents or guardians have the skills to communicate sexuality issues with teenagers or adolescents.
Awareness on other health issues, especially cancer, which has become the talk of the town in Kenya, should also have space in education. Provision of free primary and secondary education will empower people in decisionmaking, including when to engage in sex and thereby lower cases of unintended pregnancies.
Research shows women who are educated are likely to space births compared to women without education. Kenya must effectively budget and plan for resources for provision of free primary and secondary education in order address the problem of limited skills, unemployment and poverty as these factors have links to ill health and unintended pregnancies, school dropout and unsafe abortion.
Provision of comprehensive sexual education will enable young people to make informed choices about their sexuality. Awareness campaigns, initiation of sexual education at an early age, equipping teachers with skills to provide comprehensive sexual education at an early age and eliminating myths and misconceptions among religious organisations through skill-building will transform education for young people.
Youth advocate, Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa-Kenya