Gender perspectives on communication of sexual matters to primary school pupils in Kiambu county, central Kenya
Kihanya, Marie W
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The aim of this study was to gain an in-depth insight on communication of sexual matters to upper primary school pupils. This was done by exploring the perceptions of a sample of adolescents aged 12-15 years and their parents, teachers and key informants, on communication of sexual matters in Muguga educational zone of Kiambu County, Central Kenya. The study was guided by the following question: What are the perceptions of parents, teachers and upper primary school pupils of Muguga educational zone on communication of sexual matters to pupils? What sexuality information is communicated to pupils of upper primary schools in Muguga educational Zone in Kiambu County? And what the differences are in communicating sex matters to boys and girls in upper primary schools in Muguga educational zone? This qualitative study, guided by a communication model generated data through semi structured, and unstructured interviews. The study participants were purposively sampled. The interviews were audio-taped and notes taken simultaneously. Data were analyzed using the framework analysis approach. This involved identifying a thematic framework, indexing, charting, mapping and interpreting the findings. Participant's verbal consent was obtained before each interview. The findings of this study indicate that parents, teachers and key informants in the education sector as well as pupils of upper primary schools appreciated the idea of communication of sexual matters and needed the communication to be initiated at the onset of puberty or when a child is thought to be getting sexually active. However, initiating discussions on sexuality is challenging to all parties concerned. The study further revealed that the involvement of all actors in the education sector is more or less limited to giving warnings with an aim of instilling fear into the young adults on the dangers and risks of irresponsible sexual behaviours. This aims at promoting abstinence and chastity among the young adults. There is however little or no adultchild discussion and no clear explanation of what the adolescents are expected to do. Some parents as well as teachers revert to beating their children as a strategy of ensuring that they adhere to the norms. Basing on the fact that the adult-pupil communication on sexual matters is basically a one way process, it is possible that adults are not responsive to the pupil's sexual changes and needs. The findings provide insight on communication of sexual matters, which might contribute to informing the development process of promotion of moral interventions that may address adolescent morality in Kenyan youth. Basing on these findings, it is obvious that parents, teachers and other actors in the education sector need support to enhance their competence and skills to improve their communication on sexual matters to young adults. One way of fostering this change is to influence their attitude and practice towards having more dialogue on sexuality related issues with the adolescent children.