On Thursday, the 11th February DPE held a vibrant virtual dialogue session with secondary schools’ principals, languages teachers, Peaceful School Model Liaison teachers and life skills teachers of the twenty-four (24) schools in the eight (8) DPE areas on Bodily Autonomy and Integrity (BAI) in preparation for student encounter.

The meeting was to introduce the initiative to teachers and lobby their support.  DPE also presented its proposals on the implementation of the initiative which was mostly accepted by teachers. The teachers were requested by DPE to allow students in their schools to decide whether or not they want to participate in the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and BIA  programme.   The student decision is to be derived from the Student Parliament which is s body made of students; class monitors, he, and she each class, representatives of organisations, associations and clubs operating in the school. Upon positive voting, teachers are expected to organise a debate on the issues of CSE and BIA which will make students voices heard.

The students will also participate in a students’ Parliament to be held by DPE with all the participating schools.  At this stage students will deliberate and develop motions to be submitted to the Ministry of Education. The Ministries of Education and Training with its Leaner Support HIV & AIDS Coordination Unit and Health with its Adolescent Programme have given this initiative a thumps up acknowledgment. Since DPE will also facilitate community dialogue on the same issues through its Community Libraries, the collaboration between Ministries would be a pillar of strength.

Principals and teachers at the meeting acknowledged DPE efforts in supporting the development of CSE and BAI in schools. They said that the current efforts by the Ministry of Education have taken place with little education and consultation and therefore applauded the consultations that DPE has undertaken before launching the initiative at schools. They also requested support in the form of education, information and training that will allow them to confidently address the issues with students.

Development for Peace Education in partnership with The Peoples’ Matrix, LENEPWHA and with support from Alliance for Rights and AIDS in Southern Africa (ARASA) is implementing Bodily Autonomy and Integrity initiative meant to (i) empower citizens to challenge stereotypes on bodily autonomy; (ii) Promote recognition on SOGIE, and (iii) Protect PLWHAs against stigma and discrimination.  In particular DPE works with schools to amplify students voices on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education, Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights, and their expression about Health and Nutrition Policy otherwise known as Friendly Schools Policy.

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