In a statement published online, the Department of Basic Education has "noted with concern the continued misrepresentation of facts regarding some of the content in the Life Orientation subject."
Parents and teachers are in uproar in recent weeks, in response to alleged updates to the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) leaked by the ACDP and shared by FOR SA.
See more on that topic here: Leaked 2020 life orientation curriculum has educators up in arms over "grossly insensitive" sex education material.
The Department has previously provided details of what is contained in the sexuality section of the curriculum, explaining that the "core aim of the CSE is to ensure that we help learners build an understanding of concepts, content, values and attitudes related to sexuality, sexual behavior change as well as leading safe and healthy lives."
The recent statements reads "In seeking to find a comprehensive and all-encompassing curriculum that seeks to address real world challenges and issues faced by learners in their day-to-day lives, the Department has through various consultation platforms allowed for the evolution of the content within both the Learner and Teacher Guides."
Parents are objecting to the lesson plans, arguing that the new "graphic" sex ed lesson plans will embarrass teachers, corrupt young children, lead to an increase in sexual violence and unwanted pregnancies, and that the DBE should focus on teaching reading and maths skills instead.
In response, the Department has always maintained that their approach to CSE is informed by comprehensive research, and that rigorous scientific review of International Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education in 2016 found that:
- CSE does not sexualise children;
- Sexuality education does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates. On the contrary, CSE delays sexual debut and promotes safe sexual behavior; Increases knowledge of different aspects of sexuality and the risks of early and unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs;
- Decreases the number of sexual partners;
- Reduces sexual risk taking;
- Increases use of condoms and other forms of contraception.
The Department reiterates that they consulted extensively with stakeholders on CSE, and that they remain open to further consultation and engagement on the subject.
Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson and Head of Communications at the Department of Basic Education, told Parent24 that the "sexuality education is added on to the Life Orientation curriculum", and is a compulsory part of learning if you are in a public school in South Africa.
He told us that "there is no opting out", directly contradicting Motshekga's recent announcement, and explained that "if you want other alternatives you can choose to take your child to a private school or home school, because those two options offer other curricula that is not CAPS."
He said that the DBE was working on a statement that will soon to clarify this confusion.
Compiled for Parent24 by Elizabeth Mamacos
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