The Department of Basic Education has released its proposed lesson plans for Comprehensive Sexuality Education online in the face of an outcry from conservative groups. All the signs are that this move is unlikely to placate critics, who are unmoved by arguments backed by research that the syllabus is one of the best weapons in the battle against HIV, teen pregnancy and gender-based violence.
In a country plagued by child sexual abuse, teen pregnancy, destructive inter-generational sexual relationships and high youth HIV rates, who could possibly object to children learning concepts like consent and contraception from a young age?
Quite a few people, as it turns out. Religious lobby groups, the South African Teachers' Union (SAOU), the Federation for School Governing Bodies and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) have all expressed outrage at the government's Comprehensive Sexuality Education plan, to be rolled out in schools nationally in 2020.
Even the liberal DA has called on Parliament to hold a further public consultation on the matter, warning in a statement: "Sex education must strike a careful balance between equipping young people with the information they need to make the right choices, and unintentionally over-sexualising learners".
The Department of Basic Education...