The State Minister for Primary Education Rosemary Seninde has warned Marie Stopes Uganda to stop issuing condoms and contraceptives to primary school pupils, saying government will take immediate action.
The minister issued the warning following allegations by the Abim District Resident Commissioner (RDC) Samuel Mpimbaza Hashaka, who said that Marie Stopes was distributing contraceptives to primary school pupils as well as promoting homosexuality in schools.
“How do you give contraceptives to primary school children? It is like you are encouraging them to engage in sex,” Minister Seninde said in Kampala late last week, while at function to discuss the status of Universal Primary Education (UPE) in selected districts such as Abim, Kabarole and Gulu, among others.
Seninde, who said one of her children has gone through a typical UPE school, added: “Government is going to discuss the issue and we are going to follow this up seriously.”
During the function organised by the Advocates Coalition for Development and Environment (ACODE), an independent public policy research and advocacy think tank based in Uganda and working in East and Southern Africa, RDC Hashaka said he had evidence that Marie Stopes Uganda, an affiliate of Marie Stopes International, was promoting ‘gayism’ and called on government to act.
Efforts to get response from Marie Stopes were futile as top officials there were unavailable physically and on phone. Marie Stopes, among others, provides contraceptives to Ugandans as one way of promoting family planning.
Meanwhile, Hashaka said that the thematic curriculum, where primary school pupils in lower classes are taught in their mother tongues was disadvantaging the children in Karamoja region, and called on the Ministry of Education to review the programme.
“UPE in Abim and the rest of districts of Karamoja region is dying because of the thematic curriculum,” Hashaka said.
Minister Seninde said her ministry was in preparations to assess to performance of the thematic curriculum, noting that despite some challenges, it has made positive changes.
Dr. Susan Kavuma, a research fellow with ACODE, says of the thematic curriculum: “We need an assessment of the local languages. How are the schools that have adopted it performing?” She said policy of teaching in local language in lower classes was not uniformly applied in all schools.
Former Executive Director of the Uganda National Council for Higher Education (UNCHE) Prof. A.B Kasozi, responding to the challenges that come with the instruction in local languages, blamed government for being slow to develop a national language. With different languages in the country, he said “the thematic curriculum is bound to encounter challenges where children from different backgrounds study in similar schools.”