FRANCISTOWN: Pelotshwane Primary Schoolteacher Veronica Mmapatsi has raised a concern about the escalating number of pupils aged below 13 who engage in sexual activities.
The practice is despite the risk of being infected with Sexual Transmitted Infections (STI) and Human Immune Virus (HIV).
Mmapatsi voice her concern during the Botswana Conference on STI and HIV, held recently at Adansonia hotel.
In comments and questions sessions, Mmapatsi said that they have registered a lot of cases regarding pupils who have sexual relations in the school.
She further said that in most cases they often catch pupils having sexual intercourse at the toilets. Mmapatsi said: “The matter does not only affect pupils doing standard seven or six but also include those below these grades. This matter is getting out of control because even the standard one pupils have joined the unethical behavior”.
She blamed parents for these certain behaviour portrayed by pupils because she believes they play a major role in influencing their children at homes.
She added that some parents share their bedroom with their children and would engage in sexual intercourse in the presence of their children without any fear or shame.
The worried teachers said: “Nowadays children love to experience things and they would take what they witness being done by their parents and try it out with their class mates.”
According to Mmapatsi some of the parents buy phones for the children as a way of spoiling them but fail to monitor them and as a result some of the children go to an extend of downloading pornography to watch with their colleagues.
She said as teachers they suffer from this immoral behavior due to irresponsible parents who fail to be in charge of their children actions.
In addition, the concerned teacher also blamed some of the parents who watch adult movies and soap opera in the presence of their children without caring about to the age restriction.
She said if children are questioned at school they would reveal the above mentioned elements to have influenced them to have sex and when parents are summoned on the matter the would turn the tables and blame teachers for not doing their job.
She advised parents to stop being blinded by the love they have for their children but always make sure to take disiplinary action when necessary.
Mmapatsi further encouraged parent to always monitor behavioural change among their children and teach them about the consequences of indulging in sexual activities at a younger age.
She emphasized that there is a need for permanent solutions and intervention in teaching children about the importance of abstaining from sex at primary level.
Earlier on, in his keynote address the National AIDS Health Promotion Agency (NAHPA), National Coordinator Richard Matlhare said that he national statistics indicates that children in Botswana indulge in sexual activities at the age of 13.
He said that the matter calls for concern because some of the primary school students at the age of 13 want to be supplied with condoms.
Matlhare said “We will not encourage such behaviour by supply pupils with condoms at school. We still maintain that at that age children should abstain.”
He affirmed and put more emphasis that parents and teachers should teach their children to abstain from sexual activities in order to fight against STI and HIV.
When addressing the issue of STI and HIV, Matlhare said that the global annual estimates indicates that they are 357 million new cases of four major preventable and curable STI’s among people aged between 15 to 49 years.
When breaking down the statistics he said that Chlamydia infection is the highest STI which affected people globally with 131 million followed 79 million and six million of gonorrhea and syphilis respectively.
On another note, Matlhare said that Botswana still remains in top three countries affected with HIV together with Iswatini and Lesotho.
He said that currently a total of about 37000 Batswana are living with HIV from only one who was discovered in Selibe Phikwe in 1985.
Matlhare also indicated that there is 36% reduction in new infection from the year 2010.
He said:” Botswana has close to 8500 new infections per year as compared to 13000 which was recorded back in 2010.We are still far from reaching our target of 3000 new infections per annum.”
He also mentioned that the mode of STI and HIV transmission in Southern Africa show that it is though the key population whom are sex workers and their clients.
Matlhare also stressed: “It is us who are buying from them and the more we buy the higher chances of increasing the HIV prevalence.”
He also encouraged condom promotions especially in the private sector.