‘It must be up to par­ents to teach chil­dren about sex’

Pretoria News Weekend - - NEWS - SNE MA­SUKU

NOT ev­ery­one agrees that school­girls should learn about abor­tion af­ter the Department of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion called for com­ments on its draft pol­icy on the preven­tion and man­age­ment of learner preg­nancy.

For many, more ed­u­ca­tion at home and school is needed to pre­vent girls from hav­ing sex be­fore they have fin­ished their school­ing.

Cul­tural ac­tivist No­magugu Ngob­ese, of the Nomkhubul­wana Cul­tural Club – which pro­motes vir­gin­ity test­ing and ab­sti­nence from sex un­til mar­riage – dubbed the pro­posal as an­other tac­tic by the gov­ern­ment to lay its “dirty hands” on state funds.

“Firstly, we were tricked into be­liev­ing that mak­ing con­doms (con­tra­cep­tion) avail­able to our chil­dren would help in addressing teenage preg­nan­cies. All we have wit­nessed are (used) con­doms ly­ing around,” she said.

Ngob­ese felt some poli­cies of the gov­ern­ment de­stroyed chil­dren’s fu­tures by interfering in mat­ters that had noth­ing to do with the gov­ern­ment or the pub­lic space.

“What would the coun­try gain by telling our chil­dren who are still at school about abor­tion? The use of the morn­ing-af­ter pill is a neg­li­gent prac­tice only adults can de­cide on, know­ing that they had the ca­pac­ity to cope with the consequences.”

New data re­flected that in 2015, 15 740 school­girls, some in Grades 3, 4 and 5, fell preg­nant.

The department said un­wanted preg­nan­cies robbed girls of a chance to get an ed­u­ca­tion, and changed their lives.

Charisse Zeifert, of the SA Jewish Board of Deputies, felt it was ev­ery­one’s re­spon­si­bil­ity to en­sure that pupils re­ceived sex­ual ed­u­ca­tion.

“The more ed­u­cated our chil­dren are about their bod­ies, the bet­ter in­formed; the bet­ter the choices they will make in life,” said Zeifert.

Thoko Mkhwanazi-Xaluva, the chair­per­son of the Com­mis­sion for the Pro­mo­tion and Pro­tec­tion of the Rights of Cul­tural, Re­li­gious and Lin­guis­tic Com­mu­ni­ties, said that while some teach­ers might have lim­ited knowl­edge on the ter­mi­na­tion of preg­nancy she ques­tioned the psy­cho­log­i­cal and spir­i­tual ef­fects for the girls con­cerned.

“The com­mis­sion has wit­nessed sit­u­a­tions of young girls who ex­pe­ri­enced the spir­i­tual and psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects af­ter abor­tion. It also has longterm prob­lems es­pe­cially for peo­ple with high spir­i­tual val­ues. They tend not to cope,” said Mkhwanazi-Xaluva.

She said if the teach­ers were ex­pected to give lessons on this, it would put pres­sure on them to teach pupils some­thing they knew noth­ing about or did not agree with.

Pro­fes­sor Labby Ram­rathan, the di­rec­tor at the Univer­sity of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Ed­u­ca­tion Stud­ies, said the pol­icy would not work be­cause it would put more pres­sure on teach­ers. “I be­lieve the department should leave par­ents to teach their chil­dren about such things,” said Ram­rathan.

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