In Zambia, sexual and reproductive health topics are seldom discussed in family settings. Speaking openly about sexuality and sexual relationships is considered taboo in most Zambian communities. As a result, family members and teachers rarely have conversations on these topics, leading to low levels of knowledge about HIV and certain aspects of sexuality.

With this in mind, the FutureLife-Now! Programme in Zambia held a comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) workshop in April 2023 at David Ramushu Secondary School. The event was attended by 37 stakeholders, ranging from teachers, parents, councillors, nurses and district officials to youth facilitators. Recognising its importance, Ntinga Remnant, the District Education Guidance Coordinator noted that “our culture considers sexual and reproductive health as a taboo and this training should equip teachers and parents with skills and knowledge to solve this conflict between CSE and tradition.”

Participants brainstorming in groups

Richard Ngoma, a teacher at David Ramushu Secondary School and the FutureLife-Now! focal point person attended the workshop and had this to say:

In this workshop through the presentations by the [FutureLife-Now!] Country Coordinator—and informative focus group discussions, I got reminded about the realities of the adolescence phase and how teachers are the driving force to reckon with when it comes to teaching CSE related topics at classroom level by delivery of the correct and age-appropriate information about CSE.

It is very important that teachers and all stakeholders understand that during adolescence stage, the young ones go through a phase of exploration and transformation that revolves around their physical and emotional states and other aspects of sexuality. Teachers are expected to teach relationships, values, attitudes, skills, culture and human rights, human development, sexual and reproductive health as integrated in the current curriculum.

The workshop was deemed a success, as reflected in the feedback received from various participants:

I didn’t know that this Sexuality Education was a good thing. I was one of the parents against the CSE in schools but from today I promise to support it and I will start today sharing the benefits of CSE with my kids.” Nana Musonda (Parent)

The young ones view the media as trusted sources of information about sexuality. Partnering with the school and other stakeholders can encourage positive, healthy images and provide access to resources and healthcare referrals. Mass Media can influence social norms and practices and provide population level sensitization to CSE topics and issues, and this will be our role as the media. Norman Ndayeya, (Journalist from Power FM Radio)

This workshop has changed my old perception about CSE and has equipped me with knowledge, positive attitudes and skills on how I can deliver CSE lessons in a friendly manner to my learners. Martha Mable Kalaluka Teacher, David Ramushu Secondary School

We shall deliver care and support to the learners as requested by the demand that CSE create during teaching and learning. MOH [The Ministry of Health] is a pillar that promotes reproductive justice and sexual health within our scope of practice. Febby Nambeye (Sister-in-charge, Kasanda Clinic)

All of us have the responsibility to guide the young ones and after this meeting we must find time to talk to them about sexuality issues to preserve their lives. We now have the information, let us go out there and share this information in our communities as correct and appropriate information about CSE has been provided in this workshop.” Yvonne Mutamba (David Ramushu Ward Area Councillor)

For a long time, the young ones have been hungry for information that is now being delivered through comprehensive sexuality education in schools and as DEBS [District Education Board Secretary] office we shall continue to partner and engage stakeholders on CSE. Remnant Ntinga (District Education Guidance Coordinator)

I appreciate the timely information shared in the workshop about sexuality topics being integrated in the existing compulsory subjects as this is an innovative method of delivery of CSE by every teacher. Lackson Mwanza (Head teacher, David Ramushu Secondary School)

The successful outcomes of the workshop included the commitments pledged by the key stakeholders to work closely with David Ramushu Secondary to champion the wellbeing of the learners. The area councillor and other stakeholders present pledged to partner with the school and work together by conducting community meetings to increase CSE knowledge among the parents. For example, Mutamba Wisdom, the Chief Criminal Investigation officer at the Kasanda Police Station said, “The police pledges to work and partner with the school and all other stakeholders in the school community to create awareness about government policies that protect the Children’s rights and about dangers of elicit behaviours among the children and youth.”

Ntinga Remnant, District Education Guidance Coordinator, highlighting the conflict between CSE and tradition

A representative of the media also outlined the role media can play, reflecting how journalists can influence public opinion and change the negative discourse that comes from the propagation of myths and misinformation. He invited members of the Ministries of Education and Health to visit his radio station to speak about CSE and the impact of HIV on the health of children and young people.

The workshop has clearly helped to address the myths and misconceptions about CSE by equipping the participants with positive attitudes and correct and age-appropriate knowledge. Furthermore, parents reminded teachers to develop positive relationships with the community by, for example, inviting parents to visit the school from time to time to witness how sexuality topics are actually delivered in the classroom.

The words of Richard Ngoma, teacher at David Ramushu Secondary, sum up the positive gains from the workshop:

I stand here today, as a proud teacher with gratitude, to express my heartfelt thanks to [the FutureLife-Now! Programme] for the CSE workshop as it has completely changed my perception towards CSE. On behalf of teachers at David Ramushu and indeed on my own behalf, allow me to mention that the workshop has enlightened our minds and has shown us a new path.

Participants hard at work



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Time to break the silence || Demystifying myths and misconceptions in Zambia about sexuality education