The department of basic education recently unveiled its draft policy on HIV/Aids, sexually transmitted diseases and tuberculosis. One of the policy’s proposals is to formalise sex and sexuality education in schools as part of the Life Orientation subject. The policy is open for public comment until Friday. A few Durbanites shared their opinions on the subject with QINISO MBILI.
Bheki Ngcobo, 41, Chesterville, unemployed
I fully support this. I used to think it would push children into having sex but my mind changed. Once when I was working in the sewerage drains around Durban I found an almost fully formed baby; clearly, it had been aborted. This traumatised me and I do not want to see anything like that happen again in future. Children need to know what will happen to them if they engage in sex – at least then if they go on to be pregnant you know it’s their own fault and there was nothing more you could do as a parent. Also, this will help the parents because sometimes your child is naturally scared to talk with you about these things and it could be relatively easier to speak to a teacher about sexuality. Ideally, I think children should only start having sex when they are done with school.
Mbali Mqadi, 23, Montclair, student
This will be a good thing. I believe it will bear many benefits if implemented correctly. It will help prevent children from losing their virginity prematurely and, more importantly, it could help decrease the teenage pregnancy rate. Religions and cultures that are against this should step aside because at the end of the day, everybody suffers the same consequences – despite their respective cultures and religions.
Carly Louw, 18, Essenwood, student
I support this. It would even make it easier for parents because for some of us it is not easy to speak to our parents about these things. If school is for learning, why shouldn’t sex be one of the topics? Talking about sex should be normalised and not a taboo, so that the platform is open. Prevention is better than cure – this type of education will help prevent unwanted pregnancies and diseases. If children do not know what will happen, they are bound to fall pregnant and then some parents even go to the extreme of kicking their children out, ruining the child’s life. It is hard to say at what grade it should start though because children grow differently.
Khaya Mhlaba, 41, Mayville, politician
I do not condone this. Children are not mentally fit to understand everything that is said to them. Some might mistake this sex talk as a suggestion that they are now ready to have sex: it might sound as a go-ahead. If you look closely into this policy you can see that it is influenced by the Western culture because in the African culture, children are not allowed to talk about sex with their elders. The passing of this policy will be undermining the African culture. Children will have more sex and this will result in more unwanted pregnancies and contraction of STDs including HIV/Aids. There will be more disadvantages than advantages.
JP Eichler, 29, Westville, student
This has the potential of being a good thing, but it could also be very dangerous if not implemented carefully. This should be taught in a way that ensures that they won’t want to have sex. There are lot of things to consider, such as not introducing the education too early as a young child might think it is time to have sex because now the teacher has started to talk about it. Another thing to consider is that they don’t introduce it too late when the children have already started having sex. It would be useful if this education would be introduced before high school so that the children cannot be easily influenced by high school when they get there.
Nomzamo Cele, 20, uMlazi, student
One of South Africa’s biggest problems is the high rate of HIV/Aids and I support anything that is done in effort to try to battle this epidemic. It is a known fact that some children engage in sexual activities from as early as 12 years of age. Not talking about it will not help us in anyway. Children need to know about the consequences of early-age sex beforehand. They also need to know that if they happen to engage in sex, a condom should be used to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies and STDs. I believe this would work most efficiently if introduced at grade 7 or 8.