The national Department of Health, with consent from parents, plans to distribute condoms at schools.

The Eshowe primary school that has been handing out condoms to children as young as eight years old to prevent HIV and pregnancy has been told to stop by KwaZulu-Natal Education MEC Senzo Mchunu.

Mchunu said he had spoken to the principal of Zibambele primary school on Monday, who had confirmed that condoms were available, but in the toilets (in dispensers).

“We are not arguing against sex education, but in a primary school where there aren’t any pregnancies, it may be enough to talk about it,” said Mchunu.

Although he was not condemning the school, the MEC said the principal had not followed policy and the school was experiencing “exaggerated activism”.

Mchunu said reports that pupils queued for condoms and signed a register were wrong.

Parents of children at the school say they were stunned at the decision to give the children condoms, which was done without their consent.

“I have never heard of such a programme. What are children going to do with condoms?” asked a parent.

A Grade 7 pupil told The Mercury that condoms were handed out to the children each month, and that they were also available in the school’s toilets.

“Condoms are given to everybody except Grade Rs and Grade 1s,” she said.

“They are given to us so that we can protect ourselves. If we are being attacked, we can give our attacker a condom so that we do not get HIV/Aids or get pregnant.”

Several members of the community said teenage pregnancy was not an issue at this particular school, but that it was more prevalent at the neighbouring high school.

The principal of Zibambele said he was advised by the MEC not to speak to the media about activities at his school, but he insisted that he was not in trouble with the department. - The Mercury