Nigerian Bishops Assail Sex-Education Curriculum

Harmful to Moral Development of the Young, They Say

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BENIN CITY, Nigeria, OCT. 3, 2005 ( Nigeria’s bishops demanded that the government cancel a proposed sex-education curriculum which they say ignores the level of maturity of targeted students as well as African culture and tradition.

This was among the concerns addressed in a statement, «Towards Mature Nationhood,» issued at the close of the Sept. 12-16 plenary assembly of the Catholic bishops’ conference of Nigeria.

«We are concerned at the recent move by the Federal Government of Nigeria to introduce at the Junior and Senior Secondary School levels, a Curriculum for Sex Education which is harmful to the ethical and moral development of the young,» reads the episcopate’s text, signed by Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, president of the episcopal conference, and by the conference’s secretary, Bishop Lucius Ugorji of Umuahia.

«We wish to point out that sexuality education is to be preferred to mere sex education, and that such education cannot be dissociated from moral principles,» says the statement. «Sexuality education treats sex within the context of genuine human love, the family and respect for life.»

«Parents are the first teachers of their children in matters of sexuality,» and the home «provides the context of dialogue, trust, openness and respect suitable for such education,» the prelates states. Therefore, «[t]he function of the school is to support and complement this effort.»

’07 elections

«We demand that the government withdraw the proposed curriculum,» write the prelates. The message affirms the bishops’ readiness to cooperate with the government and others in charge of the educational sector, and calls them «to draw up a more acceptable curriculum.»

The bishops mention other concerns relative to the economic, political and social life of the country — such as the increase in violence, including against churches — which is heading for general elections in 2007.

The prelates urge President Olusegun Obasanjo to use this last period in office to leave behind «a more decent political structure that will curb the tragic illegalities and blatant criminalities of the past, as well as ensure free and fair elections.»

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