Zuma visits schools to promote good health

2012-10-12 00:00

“DO you all have safe sex?” asked Health Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

“Yes!” chorused a group of grade 10s at the Chipa-Tabane Secondary School in Refilwe near Cullinan yesterday.

Motsoaledi and President Jacob Zuma visited the school during the launch of a pilot school health programme.

The programme, which will provide comprehensive services from eye and hearing tests, to sex education, is part of the test phase of the National Health Insurance scheme in 10 districts countrywide.

The distribution of condoms as part of the sex education programme is controversial.

Zuma said yesterday that three-quarters of girls who get pregnant stop school and only a third of them ever return to complete their education.

“It is girls that bear the burden. I know it makes us as parents uncomfortable to talk about sex, but if you are too shy to communicate about this, your child will get pregnant,” Zuma said.

He said arguments about cultural concerns are unfounded, because in the past, it was custom in Zulu households for the oldest daughters to educate the younger ones about sex and relationships.

Boys had to ask permission to visit younger girls, who were expected to report back on their relationships while learning how to handle boys.

If a boy tried to go too far, his visits would be ended, Zuma said.

He said yesterday it was good that nurses at schools would take over this role, because teenagers often find the atmosphere at clinics hostile.

The departments of Health and Basic Education recently agreed that school governing bodies will decide on whether condoms will be made available. The Chipa-Tabane Secondary School is apparently willing to distribute condoms.

Zuma and Motsoaledi also visited the Chokoe Primary School, where children were checked in mobile clinics sponsored by the European Union.

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