In January 2021, the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of North Macedonia has presented the new concept of primary education reforms which recognizes the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) as an optional subject for students aged 13-14.
HERA, as a member association of IPPF, has been working for more than 10 years on introducing the comprehensive sexuality education in the formal system. Most of our past advocacy initiatives were unsuccessful due to the conservative approach of the former Demo-Christian Government which thought that CSE was just an attempt to counter and undermine the traditional and family values of the society. For the past 2 months HERA and the National Bureau for Development of Education have been working jointly on training teachers to pilot CSE as an optional subject in several elementary schools, after the approval of the Government in November 2019. The results of the pilot will provide further evidence-based argumentation for creation of school curricula as an optional subject in the 9th grade. The new concept of reforms also recognizes that other age-appropriate topics of CSE will be integrated in the entire educational process for elementary school students, i.e. through humanistic subjects and in science. The pilot CSE will be launched with the start of new school year, September 2021.
For several weeks now HERA has been witnessing distribution of fake news and disinformation regarding CSE pilot program content, particularly on social media. HERA has been under constant attack particularly in the last few days from an anti-gender organization called From Us to Us and some far-right political parties. By using false images and information from other countries textbooks, they are condemning HERA as a promotor of gender transformative ideology and homosexual propaganda aiming at to sexualizing children and gaining profit from abortion. On 5 February 2021, HERA has issued a press statement asking for public apology and for removal of all HERA and CSE related lies and disinformation. Since we don’t expect from the CSE opposition organization to take our demands seriously, HERA will undertake a legal action for public defamation to protect its image and reputation. HERA will also intensify the social media campaigning on the benefits of CSE over the next several months to reduce the damage made by the orchestrated distribution of false information so far and to prevent any social panic and fear among the public. Particularly our target will be the parents who don’t have enough information about the importance of CSE for the emotional and physical development of the young people.