South Africa: Department Rejects Misleading Reports On Sexual Education

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18 November 2019

The Department of Basic Education has distanced itself from a series of images that have been circulated on social media in recent weeks around the issue of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).

"The Department of Basic Education has noted with concern the impact fake news has had on the debate around the issue of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE). False reporting by some media organisations and fake news have created unnecessary confusion and anxiety among parents in particular," the department said in a statement on Sunday.

The department said the series of images that have been circulated on social media are not part of the books produced by the department.

According to the department, CSE is part of a section of the Life Orientation subject, which focuses on "sexuality" as opposed to "sex". It is not a new curriculum as some media have reported.

The purpose of CSE is to address sexual abuse, HIV infections, learner pregnancy, bullying and peer pressure and help learners stay in school until they complete Grade 12, at least.

The department said it has now made available all the scripted lesson plans for people to read and review.

"The Department is therefore urging the nation to resist and ignore the latest misinformation campaign that seeks to spread more confusion and sow panic around the comprehensive sexuality education," the department said.

The department said it is conducting a pilot on CSE in five provinces (1 500 schools). It is only testing the use of scripted lesson plans and consultation has taken place in the areas where the pilot is taking place.

"Since the introduction of CSE in 2000, the department has held continuous consultative engagements with stakeholders, both at national and provincial level. These engagements were specifically informed by, among others, the South African National HIV Prevalence, high rates of learner and teenage pregnancy," the department said.

The department is open, and will continue, to engage concerned citizens who have an input to make regarding the scripted lesson plans on comprehensive sexuality education in particular and Life Orientation in general.

The department said the images on social media have misled the public and created unnecessary anxiety and anger especially among parents.

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