Niger removes sex education from schools after condemnation from Islamic clerics

Posted: Sat, 01 Nov 2014

Niger removes sex education from schools after condemnation from Islamic clerics

UN-designed sex education material has been withdrawn from the Niger schools syllabus after condemnation from Islamic clerics.

The module, which focused on reproductive health and sex education, was first put in place in September. This prompted condemnation from Nigerien Muslim organisations, who insisted that the "good running of education must involve Muslims" and that sex education had led to "the legalization of fornication and homosexuality".

Reuters reports that one Islamic preacher, Samba Ousman, speaking on behalf of several Islamic associations, said that they "do not in any way accept the circulation of this [sex education] document". Ousman said that teaching sex education in Nigerien schools, was "undermining our values without exception" and led to "confusion between freedom and licentiousness".

The Nigerien population is expected to continue to rise sharply, with the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs finding that if "the people of Niger remain uninformed about family planning and keep reproducing at the current rate the country's population will more than quadruple by 2050". Niger's population is expected to grow from 1.7 million in 1960, to 56 million people in 2050.

The Institute for National Statistics also found that Nigerien women said they would like nine children each, whilst "some families said they would like 40 or 50 children". Only 5% of Nigeriens use family planning.

Niger has been struggling to combat militant Islam and has seen several Islamist terror attacks in recent years, with recent targets this week including a prison.

Meanwhile, in Pakistan, Reuters also reports that school textbooks have been drastically re-written to meet demands by conservative Muslims. Koranic verses on the creation of the universe have been inserted into science textbooks, and previously expunged references to jihad were being put back in to texts for 13 and 14 year old students.

The Reuters article also notes that the provincial education department in question is receiving £18 million from the British government this year.

Tags: Africa, Education, Islam