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Photo: Regional XXI
The Mozambican Ministry of Education has decided to withdraw from the grade seven natural science school text book supposedly “unsuitable” content for 12 year old school children, addressing masturbation and sexual orientation.
Speaking at a press conference on Friday in Maputo, the Director of the National Institute for Education Development (INDE), Ismael Nheze, told reporters that the content has been part of the book since 2004 but only now has anybody complained about it.
The claims that parents are up in arms against the book is not backed by any evidence: a sense of outrage was generated on Mozambican social media, but nobody has any idea of how representative this is of parents’ feelings.
“The book has been there since 2004 and it is a point of view that we have about sexuality, but we have thoroughly analysed and concluded that part of the Mozambican society agrees with the content and the other does not. Because we like consensus, we shall withdraw the content,” Nheze said.
For the recently started 2022 academic year, Nheze has recommend schools not to address such content during class, and efforts are underway with the publishing house for a permanent withdraw of the content which addresses masturbation and sexual orientation.
“Though it is only one page that deals with the topics, masturbation and sexual orientation, there has been a great controversy”, he claimed – although the question was only raised about a week ago.
“As our work is consensus driven, the two topics will not be addressed this year, and as we are moving to new grade seven next year this book will be out of use,” Nheze added.
Nheze pointed out that if parents, civil society and many other stakeholders had paid attention right from 2004, when the book was first published, the content would not have been kept for such a long time. “It is incredible. This situation should have been corrected earlier before, because we usually involve all of them in curriculum design”, he added.
Nheze thus avoided the obvious alternative – that the content remained because nobody objected in 2004 or the subsequent years.
Voices critical of the Ministry’s decision on social media asked if other “controversial” issues, such as Darwinian evolution, would now be erased from Mozambican education.