'Don't teach my kids sex education', warn parents
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The public has until the end of next month to comment on the Department of Basic Education’s draft policy on the prevention and management of pupil pregnancy.
While a Durban religious body felt that more education was needed to fight the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies, cultural activist Nomagugu Ngobese, of the Nomkhubulwana Cultural Club - which promotes virginity testing and abstinence from sex until marriage - dubbed the proposal as another tactic by the government to lay its “dirty hands” on state funds.
“Firstly, we were tricked to believe that making condoms available to our children would help in addressing teenage pregnancies. All we have witnessed are condoms lying around for children to play with.
“Then the government of this province used millions in the provision of sanitary pads that are now causing storage problems for schools due to its oversupply. We are not about to allow this one,” she said.
Ngobese felt some policies of the current government destroyed children’s futures by interfering in matters that had nothing to do with the government or the public space.
“What would the country gain by telling our children who are still at school about abortion? The use of the morning-after pill is a negligent practice only adults can decide on, knowing that they had the capacity to cope with the consequences.”
New data reflected that in 2015, 15740 schoolgirls, some in Grades 3, 4 and 5, fell pregnant.
The department said unwanted pregnancies robbed girls of a chance to get an education, and changed their lives.
Charisse Zeifert, of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, however, felt that it was everyone’s responsibility to ensure that pupils received sexual education.
“The more educated our children are about their bodies, the better informed; the better the choices they will make in life,” said Zeifert.
Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the chairperson of the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities, said while some teachers might have limited biological knowledge on the termination of pregnancy and the morning-after pill, she questioned the psychological and spiritual effects after a girl had used these options.
“The commission has witnessed situations of young girls who experienced the spiritual and psychological effects after abortion. It also has long-term problems especially for people with high spiritual values. They tend not to cope,” said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.
She said if the teachers were expected to give lessons on this, it would put pressure on them to teach pupils something they knew nothing about.
According to the proposal, the Department of Health would provide access to contraceptives in a service linked to clinics.
Education expert Professor Labby Ramrathan, the director at the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Education Studies, said the policy would not work because it would put more workload on teachers.
He recommended that the department host seminars by qualified health practitioners.
“I believe the department should leave parents to teach their children about such things,” said Ramrathan.
Simphiwe Mpungose, the Educators’ Union of South Africa general-secretary, said the proposed policy was another mechanism for politicians to loot state funds, and this should be stopped.
“We are puzzled that during such unpredictable economic situations, the country would consider such an irresponsible policy when the department was struggling financially.
“The department should rather channel the excessive money to paying teachers better salaries,” said Mpungose.
Matakanye Matakanya, general-secretary of the National Association of School Governing Bodies, said schools were not platforms for such talks.
“The government has been giving our children the licence to do all the wrong things - it must be stopped. It is due to the same government’s policies that we find ourselves with such problems. As parents, we are well capable of teaching our children about morals at home,” he said.