Images in the sexuality education section of the new textbook for Grade 10.
Images in the sexuality education section of the new textbook for Grade 10.

Sex education: ‘parents left out’

By Nathan Adams Time of article published Nov 13, 2019

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AMONG the images Grade 10 pupils will see next year when flipping through the sexuality education section of the new life orientation textbook is a illustration of a vagina that gives information on the correct way to use a female condom.

This is one of the additional images with information in the 2020 textbook for the grade, with others included in textbooks for grades 4 to 12.

The Basic Education Department has defended itself against “misleading reports on the life orientation curriculum”, and stated that “no new content... has been added to the life orientation subject in schools”.

This follows reports that pupils will be taught about masturbation, which Weekend Argus can confirm is included in the Grade 7 textbook.

In the forward to the textbooks, Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga thanks the US Agency for International Development “for providing the financial support” for them, and role-players for helping to “review of the LO (life orientation) curriculum against (the) International technical guidance on sexuality education (a publication commissioned by Unesco).”

It’s further upset political parties, who claim the department pushed through the new section with minimal consultation with communities, parent groups, school governing bodies and faith-based organisations.

“There is an underlying message - almost that, ‘We know best, and we know better than parents know,’” said African Christian Democratic Party MP Marie Sukers. “We talk about African solutions for African problems and then we go overseas and we get this from Unesco, and... they use selective research to point out it’s successful.”

The other concern from stakeholders is that guidelines are unclear about how teachers are meant to demonstrate sexual encounters and use of contraception. In the Grade 8 guide for teachers it simply states they should “describe what happens during vaginal, oral and anal intercourse”.

The DA has also raised objections saying, “teachers and parents... need to be reassured that learners are being taught material which is appropriate for their age group”.

Professor Deevia Bhana, SA Research chair in gender and childhood sexuality at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, said she disagreed with the criticism. She said research indicated there was a high teenage pregnancy rate in the country. That, and the fact that many boys and girls experienced sexual violence before the age of 17, were key reasons for a more direct approach in the classroom.

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