GEORGE NEWS - A group of concerned parents held a protest against the Western Cape Education Department (WCED)'s proposed implementing of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) and the new structured lesson plans last week.
The group, Leave Our Kids Alone, gathered at Unity Park in York Street on Thursday, 13 February, to voice their resistance against the proposed content being taught to their young Grade 4 children. Georgian Lisa Swanepoel who had organised the gathering, said they wanted the WCED to know where they stand.
She based her speech on a quote of Rita Pierson, as used by the #LeaveOurKidsAlone founder, Lauren Evanthia: "Every child deserves a champion - an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possible be."
Swanepoel said they want to be the champions in their children's lives, the ones who teach them about their bodies, Aids and appropriate feelings about sex.They want the department to understand that they as parents want the right to decide when it would be appropriate for their child to learn the intimate facts of sex.
She said according to the CSE website, CSE is supposed to help learners build an understanding of concepts, content, values and attitudes around sexuality and sexual behaviour, as well as leading safe and healthy lives.
The parents, however, want their young children to still play and learn through play. "Let us not allow the inclusion of Comprehensive Sex Education to cloud their innocent minds and rob them from time and the ability to play.
"If CSE remains to continue in schools, this will consume their play eventually, and their lives - and then also our lives," she said.
They fear CSE in schools will, contrary to the intended outcomes, lead children to experiment, taking away their innocent youth. The group said school should be a fun place to learn and not a place where the dangers of sex will make it uncomfortable.
'No new content'
The Department of Basic Education reiterated that no new content has been added to the Life Orientation subject in schools. The Comprehensive Sexuality Education has been part of the curriculum since 2000.
The department rejected the notion that Comprehensive Sexuality Education sexualises children. It said the lessons focus on teaching about the respect for self and for the bodies of others; and most importantly, for children to identify inappropriate physical interactions.
The purpose of CSE is to address sexual abuse, HIV infections, learner pregnancy, bullying and peer pressure, and to help learners stay in school until they complete Grade 12.
"It is unfortunate and bordering on mischievous that certain organisations persist to misinform the public with outdated lesson plans (used during the pilot phase) that have been shared across public platforms with the view to not only misinform but discredit the department's comprehensive plan," said Elijah Mhlanga, spokesperson for the Department of Basic Education.
The department said in November last year that they will conduct a pilot in 1 500 schools in five provinces, and that it would be testing, nothing more than the use of scripted lesson plans.
The department's press release included the following:
"The core aim of the CSE and its SLPs is to ensure that we help learners build an understanding of concepts, content, values and attitudes related to sexuality, sexual behaviour change as well as leading safe and healthy lives.
"The department is extremely concerned that there seems to be lower sexual debut and increasing risky sexual behaviour amongst adolescents, and HIV prevention knowledge has declined amongst learners.
"Early sexual debut leads to mental health issues such as depression, vulnerability to violence and poor educational outcomes. The number of adolescent girls who have sexual relationships with older sexual partners continues to increase.
"By the age of 13, young people are at a stage of puberty and experience emotional, social and physical changes. It is a known fact that most parents do not talk to their children about these changes, which leads to experimentation and risky sexual behaviours.
Teen births remain unacceptably high and impact on learning and teaching. Only one third of girls stay in school during their pregnancy and return following childbirth. This creates poverty traps for families.
Teen births as at April 2017 - March 2018:
- 10-14yrs 2 716
- 15-19113 700
- Total: 117 010"
"In a briefing to the portfolio committee in September, Basic Education Deputy Minister Dr Makgabo Mhaule said the reviews led to the development of scripted lesson plans, the development of state-owned LO textbooks, an online teacher training course, the development of the "Teaching for All" initial education teaching programme and considerations of strengthened Continuing Professional Teacher Development (CPTD) courses.
"It is only the implementation fidelity that has however necessitated a review of the LO curriculum; an evaluation of the learning material available for Life Orientation and Comprehensive Sexuality Education; a review of teacher training for LO and CSE; and a review of curriculum delivery modalities," he said.
The department's strategy was informed by comprehensive research. The 2016 review of International Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education found that the evidence base for CSE had expanded since 2008.
This rigorous scientific review 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 behaviour;
- 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 consulted extensively on CSE, and remains open to further consultation and engagement on this matter."
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