Morally condoms cannot be made available in our schools, but practically…

2014-07-22 11:51

When the Health Minister (Dr Aaron Motsoaledi) announced in 2012 that his department was strongly considering making condoms available in our schools, I am sure he felt like hiding his head under the table given the widespread criticism that he had to endure. Those from the religious groups felt this move was undermining God. Other people, on the other hand, especially the realists, felt this move was plausible. The Basic Department of Education has once again opened up this debate and the reactions from all corners of a society are evenly matched to the ones experienced in 2012.

Research clearly points out that out of the estimated 50 million South African citizens, the country captured 94 000 unplanned teenage pregnancies. On top of these appalling stats UNICEF in 2011 released one of the shocking statistics which revealed that South Africa has the largest number of young people living with HIV and “one in three young people newly infected with the virus each year is from either South Africa or Nigeria.”  We are then propelled to ask: what should we do as a society when things are this bleak? Will the availability of condoms in schools be the best remedy for this situation? The Life Orientation subject was introduced in our schools to help teenagers come to a better understanding of their sexual health and most important how to make informed decisions holistically. Instead what this subject has only seemingly managed to accomplish is to produce abnormally many distinctions that have not helped change the way our teenagers approach life; one would assume that with many distinctions will be a sudden change in our behavioural patterns, but things seem to only worsen.

I believe those who support the availability of condoms in schools have a point considering the fact that many teenagers than ever as sexually active, more than their parents it would seem and if we are to curb the spread of sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies, we should employ measures such as the condom use and contraceptives. Also when condoms are made available at early stages of the youth it is argued that the likelihood of sexual gesticulation will be delayed. My concerns, however, evolve around the message that we send to these learners: 1) We acknowledge that you have sex on the school premises and it is permissible to do so; 2) you can freely take your sexual partner from his or her classroom, given the assumption that learners date their fellow school or classmates, which is very true, and have a quick sex break like others take the smoke break and last but not least, you can have sex at an early stage of your life regardless of the fact that you are emotionally and financially fragile, as is the case with many of our teenagers.

When the mirror looks are the parents it does not seem to tell a good story at all. I am wondering if parents openly talk about sex with their children. I know for a fact that in most of our black communities talking about sex with your parents is like cursing God. My older sister started tutoring us about sex—its negatives and positives—when I was 11 years old and what she taught us still lives with me even today. The latter has encouraged me to abstain from sex until after I was emotionally and financially ready. I believe if parents can have open conversations with their children about sex a lot more could be achieved.

When the glasses look at our curriculum it shows even the gloomier picture. It seems like to curb or minimize early sexual engagement our learners would need to have bigger dreams than just fantasising about having more sex. It would seem that health professions need to step in and advice learners on the various ways that they can sexually satisfy themselves other than having the physical contact such as masturbation among others. I mean sex only lasts for about 11 minutes and within that time there can be HIV, genital warts and even a child et cetera.  But as things stand it seems like it will take more than six wild stallions to convince them otherwise.

As I conclude I think whether condoms should be available in our schools should involve learners, parents and community at large. The value system that a society embodies will have a final say on what is the best way to approach this situation.

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