School sex-education curriculum slammed

TAKING ACTION: Parents have signed a petition to stop comprehensive sex education programmes in SA schools
TAKING ACTION: Parents have signed a petition to stop comprehensive sex education programmes in SA schools

Should teachers be educating children on the nitty-gritty of sex?

That is the debate in SA at the moment and there are mixed feelings when it comes to the Comprehensive Sex Education programme touted to be introduced in schools from 2020.

While some parents say they do not want their kids to be taughtharmful and illicit” ideas on human sexuality, others say there are two sides to the coin.

The new curriculum will teach grade 7s about kissing, dating and masturbation and sex while younger grades will learn about “private parts” and deal with identifying sexual violence and the stigma of HIV/Aids, among other things.

A petition “Stop CSE in South African Schools” has been circulating, with school governing bodies in Nelson Mandela Bay sharing a link to the petition in WhatsApp groups for parents.

The petition, created by the Family Policy Institute, has been signed by 101,035 people and there is a call for more signatures.

The petition claims that most CSE programmes teach that promiscuity is a right, promotes dangerous alternative sexual practices, exposes children to pornographic images and demeans traditional, moral, religious and cultural values.

Family Policy Institute founder and CEO  Errol Naidoo said the institution first launched the campaign against CSE in 2016, when concerns were raised by one of their  sister organisations.

The campaign was relaunched in September 2019.

“I was alerted of the dangers of CSE by international pro-family organisations — Family Watch International and the UN Family Rights Council,” Naidoo said.

“We were again inundated with concerns about CSE from parents and churches across the country when we launched the first Family Policy Institute Petition against CSE in SA in partnership with CitizenGo.

“We later launched the online letter outlining seven critical reasons why CSE must not be implemented in SA to the department of basic education along with the Protect Children SA Coalition,” Naidoo said.

He said the organisation, in partnership with a church in the Western Cape, had planned a march to parliament  on Saturday November 30.

There, they will hand over the letter with the tens of thousands of signatures from citizens and organisations demanding that the government scrap CSE in SA.

“The memorandum will outline seven common-sense actions the government can implement to significantly reduce sexual exploitation, abuse and violence against women in SA,” Naidoo said.

The main concerns raised by the organisation and parents across the country is that CSE is not a traditional form of sex education.

“CSE promotes and legitimises a particular ideology that is in direct conflict with the values of the vast majority of parents in SA.

“CSE is devised by the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) — the largest abortion provider in the US.

“CSE was not conceived in SA or even Africa.

“SA parents have not been consulted about this nor are they informed about the high-risk sexual practises CSE teaches their children.

“CSE deliberately bypasses parental authority and rights and targets children with sexual perversion,” Naidoo said.

Bay businessman and father of three Patrick Gedza said that before reacting to the decision, parents should ask why the department had decided to introduce the programme.

Gedze said he believed that the introduction of CSE was a sign that parents were failing to play their role.

“Don’t get me wrong, I am not supporting the decision but I am one person who will ask the critical question as to why the decision came about.

“As a parent you need to have the kind of relationship with your children where you address issues.

“If you don’t do that, the government will always take the last resort which is often an extreme and, unfortunately, it means we have failed as parents.

“There are always two sides to a coin —  we should be sitting down and asking why the government came to this decision,” he said.

Department of basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga slammed the petition, saying it  “continued deliberate misrepresentation of facts regarding some of the content in the Life Orientation subject”.

He said: “We have noted with concern that a certain organisation persists in misleading the public by publishing the wrong information resulting in unnecessary confusion and panic among South Africans.

“The Comprehensive Sexuality Education has been part of the curriculum since the year 2000.

“Research findings indicate high birth rates among adolescents and teenagers.

“In addition, more than a third of girls and boys [35.4%] experience sexual violence before the age of 17.

“This has necessitated the great need for the department to provide age-appropriate child-abuse-prevention education that builds resilience, confidence and assertion among young people, who often do not know when they are being violated by sexual predators.”

Mhlanga said the department’s strategy was informed by comprehensive research.

“The 2016 review of International Technical Guidelines on [sex education] found that the evidence base for CSE had expanded since 2008.”

He said because of the review it was decided to expand the programme starting in 2020.