Petition to oppose changes to life orientation subject content
News / 11 November 2019, 3:00pm / MERCURY REPORTER
Durban - There is growing opposition to the introduction of Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) in schools, with religious organisations, parents and education stakeholders demanding that a meaningful public participation process take place before the changes to the life orientation curriculum are made.
Freedom of Religion South Africa (For SA) and the Afrikaans teacher union, the Suid-Afrikaanse Onderwysersunie, have all argued that parents and teachers were not adequately consulted about the changes to the curriculum.
The department has previously stated that the controversy about the material was unfounded. It said the CSE had been part of the curriculum since 2000, and no new material had been added.
It rejected the notion that CSE sexualised children, saying the department had consulted extensively and remained open to further engagement.
The Protect Children South Africa Coalition, which includes the Family Policy Institute, South Africa and Family Watch International, has now launched an online petition to oppose the introduction of CSE in the life orientation curriculum in schools next year.
In the petition, addressed to Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga, it argued that CSE went against South African cultural values and was being rolled out without “prior parental involvement, guidance and approval”.
Vee Gani, of the KZN Parents’ Association, said yesterday that it was necessary for more consultation to take place, saying there had been a groundswell of opposition to the material.
The SA Hindu Maha Sabha last week called on the Department of Education to host a national interfaith workshop with legitimate leaders to address the concerns raised.
“The parents, teachers, teacher unions and religious organisations collectively have a large reservoir of experience to suggest a programme that would be both beneficial to our children and sensitive to the varying views on sex education that prevail.”
For SA also said that its primary concern was that parents were being ignored.
“CSE is not a value-neutral subject like maths. In fact, it’s impossible to teach this subject without integrating a moral viewpoint.
“While many parents may be happy for their children to learn whatever the state may choose to teach on sex and sexuality, others may view this as completely contrary to the values they hold and which they wish to impart to their own children.”
The DA said yesterday that it had asked for the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education to meet to discuss the subject after it had received many complaints. However, the party claimed that requests for further discussion had been declined by the chairperson, Bongiwe Pricilla Mbinqo-Gigaba.
In response, Mbinqo-Gigaba said that the portfolio committee had already received an explanation from the department about the curriculum. She said she believed there had been thorough engagement on the matter.
DA MP and its spokesperson on education, Nomsa Marchesi, said the party had received many calls, emails and WhatsApp messages about the matter.
She said while the department had already briefed the committee, the outcry and concerns among parents and teachers required a meeting of all the relevant stakeholders.
“It’s thus essential for the committee to allow other relevant and concerned stakeholders the opportunity to display their own presentations to the committee.
“The CSE clearly requires an open dialogue between all the relevant stakeholders to give those who are concerned an opportunity to make presentations and to give the department, and indeed Parliament, an opportunity to hear their concerns,” she said.
She said Mbinqo-Gigaba’s dismissal of such a request was tantamount to the prevention of public participation and open dialogue.
Mbinqo-Gigaba accused the DA of being “dishonest”. She said that after the department had made a presentation on the subject, all members of the portfolio committee had indicated they were happy with the presentation.
“Now because afterwards someone according to Marchesi wrote to her and complained about the CSE, she expects us to reopen the presentation. I will never stifle debate,” she said.