Dept frowns on condom provision to schools

2008-05-21 00:00

THE national Education Department has frowned upon the decision by the National Teachers’ Union (Natu), to distribute condoms in schools.

This comes after Natu announced its pilot programme, the first of its kind in the country, to distribute condoms to teachers in 10 schools in the province and in Mpumalanga.

Eliam Biyela, the union’s executive director and programme director, said the programme forms part of the Prevention, Care and Treatment Access programme (PCTA), an initiative designed to increase HIV/Aids awareness among their members, and help curb the spread of HIV among teachers.

He said all unions participate in the programme, but adapt it to their needs.

“Basically, we concentrate on five legs, one of which is prevention. There, we deal with abstinence, being faithful to one’s partner and offer training in condom use.”

While the department felt it was not a good idea to distribute condoms in school, Biyela was not fazed by the fact that learners might have access to the condoms. Instead, he said it might help address the high pregnancy rate in South African schools.

“Unfortunately HIV/Aids does not discriminate against age. We will be doing it for teachers, but there is no reason why learners can’t have access. There are many children who are sexually active and dying because they are failing to abstain.”

Biyela said Natu will be meeting with student governing bodies to explore the extension of condom distribution to pupils as well.

Department spokesman Lunga Ngqengelele said they do not feel the distribution of condoms in schools is a good idea. “We don’t want to send the wrong message. Schools are areas of teaching and learning and we want to focus them for that core function,” said Ngqengelele.

However, Biyela said it was immoral to want to save the lives of teachers and not be able to do the same for the hundreds of pupils, who end up dropping out or die from the pandemic.

According to Biyela, the union was not instigating for pupils to be sexually active, because they already are.

sphumem@witness.co.za

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