Egypt: Young people want sex education

The most senior Islamic cleric rejected any attempts to introduce sex education that discusses safe sex and abortions in the country's classrooms.
Sheik Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, the head of Al-Azhar, one of the oldest and most prominent Muslim scholarly institutions, told a regular meeting of al-Azhar Clerics that Islam teachings deal with sexual education issues in a way that doesn't propagate sin or corrupt youth.
"It is better than teaching sex to school students and permitting the so-called safe abortion and calling for equality between man and woman through gender culture," said Tantawi. The comments came amid attempts to revive long dormant plans to revamp reproductive health education in schools, which has prompted widespread debate on Egyptian media on the subject. Tantawi said Islam recognizes only one way of making a family, through marriage between man and woman, a way that avoids issues of premarital sex and the providing of contraceptives to young people and the need for abortion.

Government ministries and civil groups in Egypt have been trying to find ways to teach reproductive health and HIV/AIDS prevention without raising religious objections, particularly by treating it as an issue of health rather than sex. Soha Abdel Qader - an official at the government-affiliated National Centre for Childhood and Motherhood, which is adopting a programme to increase awareness among adolescents about safe practices and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) - said the term "sex education" might turn clerics against the programme.

Abdel Qader, whose centre has held seminars on reproductive health in high schools, said young girls and boys have a lot of appetite for knowledge about such issues. "It is their families that don't want them to know." Egypt's Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa has already rejected attempts to teach children safe sex and how to avoid pregnancy and STIs on the grounds that it would promote sexual activity.

Source: Associated Press reported in Push Journal, 7.04.05, via IPPF News.