Pupil sex policy a thorny topic

A total of 3 907 girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth in Eastern Cape health facilities between January and March.
A total of 3 907 girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth in Eastern Cape health facilities between January and March.  Image: FILE

A total of 3 907 girls aged 15 to 19 gave birth in Eastern Cape health facilities between January and March.

And during this period 77 girls under 15 gave birth.

This is according to national health deputy director Feni Maimane.

She was giving a presentation at a conference focusing on the hotly controversial HIV, TB and STI policy for schools that was held on the beachfront in East London yesterday.

The readiness of Eastern Cape schools to teach pupils about sexual education came under the spotlight at the first day of the three-day conference.

Attendees engaged in crucial conversations on HIV testing among pupils, teenage pregnancy, the distribution of condoms in schools, and the necessity of the HIV, TB and STI policy in schools.

This policy was introduced by the department of basic education as a move to fight sexually transmitted diseases, HIV and Aids infection, and teenage pregnancy in schools.

It will introduce HIV testing in schools without parental consent for pupils as young as 12 and make condoms freely accessible to pupils.

When the policy was implemented by an Eastern Cape NGO in a Port Elizabeth school in March, it caused a huge uproar from teachers and parents alike.

Eastern Cape Aids Council spokesman Vuyisa Dayile said the conference was intended to engage parents, teachers, pupils and other community builders on the aims the policy seeks to introduce to curb HIV and teenage pregnancy in schools.

“The policy is there but it’s not being implemented in schools because of resistance from parents and teachers, yet HIV infections and pregnancies in schools are escalating.

“We wanted to get feedback from teachers, pupils and parents on what they think about the policy. ”

Bathande Zazaza, 15, from Nosizwe High School in Phakamisa, said the policy made a number of promises which he hoped would materialis

“For example, it says that condoms will be made available in schools, but who will give them out to pupils? Teachers are discriminatory towards us.

“This information shouldn’t be shared only on platforms like this – it should be in our textbooks so that more pupils know about it. Our schools and the curriculum are not conducive to sexual education.”

Duncan Village parent Priscilla Hoya said sexual education needed to target parents in communities before addressing pupils.

“This can’t be just for school pupils. Parents need to be educated too, so that they understand why sexual education is necessary. If it is no longer dependent on us whether our kids are tested or not, it means we need to be ready for this.”

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