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Does Sex-Ed mean more sex?

It’s not new that there are topics we rarely discuss as Rwandans. Sexual education is among those. Some seem to have the idea that the more you learn about sex the more you will do the act but this could not be more wrong.

“Knowledge is power,” they say. It’s an adage that, surprisingly enough, holds up even when we’re talking about something as sexual health.

As Tona Kabatesi, a university student in Kigali, testifies, “Studying sex-ed doesn’t mean you’re preparing to jump into bed. It’s more about understanding your body, its needs, and its changes.”

Contrary to the persistent myth, studies suggest that sex education doesn’t cause an increase in sexual activity among teenagers. Instead, it leads to more informed, safer decisions.

A study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health discovered that comprehensive sex education was associated with a 50% lower risk of teen pregnancies. Another study, carried out by the Rwanda Biomedical Center, found that districts with comprehensive sex-ed programs reported lower rates of HIV and STIs among young people, debunking the claim that more knowledge equates to more sex.

Sex education is not just about the mechanics of sex. It’s about relationships, consent, respect, safety, and understanding the emotional dimensions of intimacy.

“After our school introduced a more comprehensive sex-ed program, I felt more empowered to say no,” shares Kabatesi. “It’s not that sex-ed made me want to abstain, it simply provided the knowledge to make the right informed choice.”

In a country still healing from the wounds of its past, education – including sex education – is an essential part of creating a brighter, healthier future for its youth.

Many Rwandan youths echo Tona’s sentiments, supporting the fact that comprehensive sex-ed is empowering and does not incite increased sexual activity.

“In my opinion, sex-ed is more about self-discovery than anything else,” says Uwase, a college student in Ruhengeri. “It taught me about self-respect, autonomy, and safety. I learned about contraception, STIs, and consent,. I believe this knowledge will help me make better decisions in the future.”

Furthermore, Ingabire Josiane, a youth mentor in Ruhengeri, adds, “We often notice that youths who have undergone comprehensive sex-ed are more likely to make responsible choices and understand the consequences of their actions. Sex-ed is not a green light to promiscuity; rather, it’s a guiding hand towards informed decisions.”

Some believe sex education is about morals and values, but it really is about health information, including understanding bodily autonomy and consent. Sex education gives people the opportunity to learn that saying yes is just as important as saying no, and vice versa.

Covering topics such as consent in sex education classes does not mean people are going to run out and have sex. Instead, it means people will understand how to navigate the world better, both when it comes to sex and when it doesn’t.

Young people might not have the same level of trust in the future if adults don’t answer their questions.

Straight out of Twitter