Teachers' unions weigh in on Comprehensive Sex Education

Teachers' unions weigh in on Comprehensive Sex Education

Teachers' unions have been sharing their views on the introduction of Comprehensive Sex Education (CSE) under Life Orientation for children from Grade 4.  

Class room generic
Photo by Nam Hoang on Unsplash

It's been met with anger and resistance by thousands of parents, who have signed an online petition to try and stop this section of the school curriculum from going ahead.


Parents who are against it believe the content included in these lessons will do more harm than good for children from the age of 10.


However, the Department of Basic Education has released a statement saying the approach it's taking is based on comprehensive research that these lessons will help children, inform them to make better decisions and equip them with skills to deal with sexual violence, as well as to protect their bodies.


It says it wants to set the record straight on the misrepresentation of facts regarding some of the information shared on the Life Orientation subject.


Teachers' unions have been weighing in on the contentious issue.


The South African Democratic Teachers Union (SADTU) deputy secretary, Bheki Shandu says parents should not panic.


"Such subjects will be delivered by professional educators who shall go through necessary professional training. All is intended to bring awareness to learners, but not to prematurely expose them to that which the society says it's unwarranted sexual education," he said.


National Professional Teachers' Organisation of South Africa (Naptosa) provincial chief executive, Thirona Moodley says it's up to teachers to make the right decisions in class.


"If our members are not comfortable with it, we will as a union stand by our members and we will bring out our experts to say this is the middle ground that we can actually reach regards to the curriculum," she said.


Meanwhile, Johan Lemmer who with the SA Teacher Union says they are opposing it. 


"We are of the opinion that we are actually provoking unsafe promiscuous behaviour if we provide content of this nature to learners,” he said,


In the statement released by the Department of Education it says the department’s approach to the curriculum is informed by a 2016 scientific review of International Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education.


According to the research it found that: “CSE does not sexualise children. sexuality education does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates.”


On concerns raised by the organisations campaigning against CSE the department says:  

“In Grade 4 the group discussion in the lesson has no reference to learners identifying each other’s private parts, rather it asks learners to discuss which parts of their body are private and they would not allow others to touch using a worksheet with a picture of a boy and a girl not using their own bodies as the writer of this article implies.”

Grade 5 topics include: “Body image, I can choose my relationships, this is my body and I can say what happens to it, the benefits of good and safe relationships, child abuse, dealing with violent situations, learning from our elders, should boys and girls be treated differently, dealing with the stigma of HIV.”

“In Grade 6, learners are taught about bullying and cyber bullying as one the ways of bullying and this lesson uses scenarios to teaches learners that sending nasty or embarrassing messages on the internet or social media threatening to say something that is not true on a public space to hurt other persons  is not correct.”

Grade 7 lessons talks about changes adolescents experience during puberty and it refers the learners to talk to parents or doctors as a good way to have information and ask questions that they may have about how these changes affect them and relationships.

Grade 8 lessons deals with making healthy sexual choices and knowing your limits.

Grade 9 lessons include: Setting goals and reaching your potential, one partner at a time, using SRH resources in communities, are you ready for parenthood, sexual consent, power and control in relationships. 

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