DBE has slammed "fake news" that is causing harm to debate on the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) section of the LO curriculum in schools.

Johannesburg - The basic education department (DBE) has slammed "fake news and false media reports" that are misleading and causing harm to debate on the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) section of the life orientation curriculum in schools.

"False reporting by some media organisations and fake news have created unnecessary confusion and anxiety among parents in particular," the department said in a statement on Sunday.

"The department therefore wishes to distance itself from a series of images that have been circulated on social media in recent weeks. These images are not part of the books produced by the department," it said.

The department was aware of a lobby group against CSE that was creating misleading social media posts and feeding the public "contaminated information".

"One of the many images shows adults in bed with graphic details. Another piece of fake news says the department will distribute condoms with stationery in 2020. There is also a video of an individual spreading wrong and potentially harmful information."

Parents were urged to verify with the department before making decisions based on information published by certain organisations and individuals. The purpose of CSE was to address sexual abuse, HIV infections, pupil pregnancy, and bullying and peer pressure, and help pupils stay in school until they completed Grade 12.

"The department has now made available all the scripted lesson plans for people to read and review. The department is therefore urging the nation to resist and ignore the latest misinformation campaign that seeks to spread more confusion and sow panic around the comprehensive sexuality education," the statement said.

Since the introduction of CSE in 2000, the department had held continuous consultative engagements with stakeholders, both at national and provincial level. These engagements were specifically informed by, among others, the South African national HIV prevalence and high rates of teenage pregnancy.

"The department is open, and will continue, to engage concerned citizens who have an input to make regarding the scripted lesson plans on comprehensive sexuality education in particular and life orientation in general," the statement said.

African News Agency (ANA)