Living in Germany, we generally agree is a culture shock, however some things do shock more than others. A topic many of us with kids in schools might have found most shocking is how early sex education in German schools starts and how detailed is.
A Kenyan parent recently shared this with me:
Wololo my son with his 9yrs has already started it in school. Home work is stressful me being an african.
Sasa they were told to discuss puberty, sex organs and their uses as in sexuality etc.. hehe. Sema kublush from my own son. You know we dont know such things from back home. Most of this stuff we were taught in class 7, 8 na highschool na our parents never even discussed it with us *sigh*
First of all I think nowdays kids get to puberty mapema sana ama its me who wasnt attentive siku zetu? Yaani at 9 they do sex education, at 9 back in my days I played kati and hide n seek. I knew nothing about sex. Another challenge is keeping up with the kind of life his friends have. These kids are too digital, my son pushes me to log on in internet eti sijui site called habbo.de and another one hapo where they have a chatroom and he can find his classmates. And when I say no the next day siongeleshwi cos apparently all his friends are there n he feels out of place when they discuss. Well, I have talked with a few parents but yet again you cant tell a person what to allow his kid and what not to. Yaani its hard. He had a phone cos he comes home earlier than I do so I have to track him. About 3months ago he deliberately messed his phone cos it wasn’t smart ati sasa ninunue smartphone. He wants whatsapp and the likes. Alah! And by the way I had too. At times I wish I could bring up my kids in Kenya. This digital world is too much. Even though pia Kenya is also as digital.
For the smart phone story, I guess the problem is similar in Kenya as well. During a visit home recently, I noticed some 8 year-olds having iPhone 6S’s and those other huge Samsung phones. Apparently, those are the kinds of phones kids love nowadays, the big screen allows better view when playing Subway Surfers.
Back to the “sex” classes.
When do they start?
Depending on the Bundesland, sex education classes can start as early as when the child is 5 years old (Berlin), some will wait a little longer starting in the 1st grade but at 8-9 years old, all children will have started the classes.
What information is covered?
It normally covers all subjects concerning the process of growing up, bodily changes during puberty, emotions involved, the biological process of reproduction, sexual activity, partnership, homosexuality, unwanted pregnancies and the complications of abortion, the dangers of sexual violence, child abuse, and sex-transmitted diseases. It is comprehensive enough that it sometimes also includes information on sex positions and the correct usage of contraception.
The advantage of offering such info to kids, ensures that the number of teenage pregnancies are kept low. For every 1000 girls aged 15-19, in Germany 16 get pregnant while in Kenya it’s 103.
A teacher commenting on the topic said:
“in the 1st year, sex education is really more about biology and the ‘mechanics’ of sex. They learn the proper names for body parts (albeit the more German words, Scheide and Glied as opposed to Vagina and Penis) and use them to label two drawings of a boy and a girl. They then learn about how babies are made which is supported by the material ‘Babykiste’ (Baby box) which, with pictures, explains each month of pregnancy. Just the pure mechanics, so to speak.
Older children (years 3 and 4) are visited by a midwife, who discusses childbirth with them. The kids really enjoy this visit, especially those who are about to become older brothers or sisters. She explains what happens during childbirth (again, using age appropriate language, diagrams and material) and what her job is during labour and birth.”
Some schools will invite parents to the school before the kids can start the class and the parents may ask any questions they might have. The teacher also runs a “test lesson” with the parents, for the parents to know how such a class would be organised.
Some schools will allow parents make suggestions on what should be taught. In one school, when the 1st grade teacher got pregnant and the kids were curious about it, parents agreed for the classes to be started much earlier. So it helps also for the parent to attend the Elternabend, you might find other parents made decisions while you weren’t there.