In Madagascar, Schools Now Advocate Abstinence

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A policy change is causing controversy, a few days before the presidential election in November, the Ministry of National Education announced that henceforth, all activities related to sex education should adhere to the ministry’s principle, advocating for abstinence.

According to a note from the Ministry of National Education, sex education courses in middle and high schools are now called “EVH,” which stands for “Education for Life in Harmony,” emphasizing abstinence. The note, explained by Eliana Raharinosy, the Director General responsible for school establishments at the ministry, aims to “establish a framework for teaching sex education to young people.”

“The role of the National Education is to form good citizens. We are aware that sex education in schools significantly influences the quality of future citizens. Previously, anyone could come to our schools to disseminate their desired teachings. We observed that this undermined Malagasy culture. The way other stakeholders in sex education teach does not align with these values. Hence, the release of this note,” Raharinosy explained.

“A girl who becomes pregnant is ostracized from society”

She added that these courses would no longer address contraception. “However, this information is available in the life sciences subject. Additionally, we can no longer demonstrate how to use a condom due to the sacred nature of our schools. But we don’t just say ‘abstinence’; we equip children to have good behavior, and a healthy life, and the only way to do that is to inform them about the right attitudes. We tell them: ‘The goal is to get your high school diploma,'” she emphasized.

“If you get pregnant, will you go to the Twelfth grade? No, because a young girl who becomes pregnant is ostracized from society. All of this is a package that ensures children have the necessary information to understand that even if they have made mistakes, even if they have had a sexual relationship, for example, at 12 or 13 years old, they receive EVH training, and from there, they will change their behavior.”

According to the director, the measure is not regressive. “We advocate for our values in this sex education, and that’s what we transmit to our children,” she concluded.

Soukaina Sghir

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