Lipotso

I teach two subjects: English and Life Skills. More on English later – I want to talk about Life Skills.

Life Skills Based Sexual Education, as the Ministry of Education officially calls it, is broad. I plan on teaching topics ranging from nutrition to gender to human rights to study skills. But as the long name suggests, the focus of Life Skills is essentially Sex Ed.

I am thrilled to be teaching this subject. HIV/AIDS is extremely prevalent in Lesotho, and education is an important way to combat its impact. But more simply, I had truly terrible Sex Ed myself, and I want to give my students a more open-minded and well-rounded look into these topics. 

With my Grade 7 class, I started the year by teaching the science of sex. We learned about the female and male reproductive systems. We yelled the words “penis” and “vagina” until they no longer made everyone giggle. I drew a couple of beautiful diagrams.

Now, we’ve moved to the social aspects of sex. We’re currently talking about safe sex, birth control, consent, and communication within relationships.

These kids love it. They’re mostly age 14-16, and they’re curious. Most of them don’t have access to the internet, and adults here generally don’t talk about sex with children. I think for many of them, I’m the first person who has approached them with concrete information about their bodies and the first person who’s said its ok to talk about sex.

My co-teachers recognize the cultural difficulty (and the importance!) of talking to children about sex, and we have had productive conversations about this. One of my goals for my service is to work with them to  find ways to improve Life Skills teaching across the board.  

While I do plan traditional lessons and activities, the center of my Life Skills classroom is really the question box. It’s a place where students can ask anything – anything! – they want, anonymously. Since Life Skills is only as useful as it is relevant to my students’ interests and needs, I use the questions as a jumping off point for lessons or discussions. Submissions range from funny to sweet to heartbreaking, and I want to share some with you (with the English mistakes cleared up, but no content changed):

  • If I want to have sex but I don’t have a condom, what can I do?
  • What is love?
  • I don’t want to get pregnant, but I want to have sex. What can I do?
  • Can a girl have a baby if she has sex with a 50-year-old man?
  • What are my rights?
  • I want to have sex with my girlfriend, but she refuses. Can I force her to do it?
  • If I masturbate, will I go blind?
  • How might you feel if your boyfriend or girlfriend leaves you??
  • What is it like for a child to have AIDS?
  • If you have sex with a pregnant woman, will she get pregnant again?
  • What does a condom look like?
  • If you refuse sex, does it mean you don’t really love your boyfriend?
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5 thoughts on “Lipotso

  1. What important work Jill! It must feel so rewarding to teach something that is so relevant. LOVED the yelling exercise! Oh and the honesty of those questions! You’ve clearly created a safe place for your students. The photos of the questions make me feel as though I’m right there with you. I got to travel to Lesotho this morning and I’m still in my bathrobe! Thank you!.

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  2. Ditto on the yelling penis and vagina, grandma Nancy beloved in using the correct term as well. She would be so very proud of you as we are. You make us laugh Jill and feel so connected, thank you. I sent 3 boxes to the old address, I will follow it with a letter to redirect it to new location, I hope it makes it. Sending spices dried fruit and lots of trail mix.
    Love you God daughter

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    1. Thanks Aunt Terrie! I think Grandma would have fun in my life skills class. I can still get packages at the old address too, so no worries! You’re too generous. I’m currently camping and using the flannel leggings you sent me for chilly nights!

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  3. Hey Jillian,
    As usual, I enjoyed reading about your latest news.
    I worked with your mum’s class yesterday on letters to you! Be ready!
    Love how your teaching is so relevant to the needs of your students.
    So proud of you!!
    Barbara Raffa
    xoxox

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