South Africa: Why We Need a Gendered and Holistic Approach to Life Orientation


The decision by the Department of Basic Education to redevelop Life Orientation to include updated sex education is a welcome step forward in South Africa, but must be seen as a long-term process that is supported and continually monitored. By proactively engaging children and young adults in their formative years on topics such as inclusivity, sex, gender and mental health awareness, we could unlock tremendous potential that can have lasting positive effects in their later life.

While Life Orientation is aimed at teaching children and young adults about important skills and values to be used throughout life, it is abundantly clear that in its current form, it is grossly under-utilised and lacking current thinking on sex education and self-care. It has become a somewhat meaningless exercise for many school learners who miss out on invaluable opportunities to participate in safe spaces that encourage holistic and progressive learning.

Earlier this year in the United Kingdom, the Department of Education announced that compulsory health and relationship education is to be rolled out in English primary schools. In secondary schools, the new rollout will also include an updated sex education subject. Children in primary school will learn about relationships inclusive of LGBTQI, online...

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