The Matabeleland Aids Council (MAC) surveys have revealed students in tertiary and secondary levels of education were in support of the idea of condom distribution in both high schools and tertiary institutions, an official has said.
Speaking at a MAC strategic review programme, the council’s community capacity building manager, Musa Sibindi, said youths across the Matabeleland region had “demanded” condoms in their schools on the grounds that they were already sexually active and wanted to be safe.
“Our surveys found out that young people in tertiary and secondary levels of education wanted condoms to be distributed in schools as they admitted they were sexually active,” she said.
“This is something that the National Aids Council had suggested to the Ministry of Education, Sports, Arts and Culture to approve and the matter is still being debated at higher levels.”
Sibindi said the majority of new HIV infections occur among the 20 to 29-year age group.
“According to estimates last taken in 2009, Zimbabwe has an HIV prevalence rate of 14-26% amongst the adult population with 80% of the infections spread through heterosexual sex,” she said.
“The figure is, however, currently increasing amongst young people as the latest figures reveal that the 20 to 29-year-old age group has the highest rates of new infections.”
Following discussions at the strategic review programme, MAC members and stakeholders suggested that condom distribution in schools would reduce the spread of HIV infections in the 20 to 29-year-old age group.
But Education, Sport, Arts and Culture minister David Coltart ruled out the distribution of condoms in schools saying this would promote promiscuity.
“The Ministry of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture will not adopt such a policy and it was not in our plans to do so,” he said at a World Aids Day event in Bulawayo early this month.
“Condom distribution in schools will promote promiscuity.
“They should not be in schools because this would imply that we want them to have sex when in fact most parents will promote abstinence and this should be the thrust of our education.”
Coltart said Aids awareness classes must be preferred to condom distribution as this would educate students about sexual health instead of encouraging them to partake in sexual activity.