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Life Orientation seeks to empower children against sex predators - dept

The Basic Education Department has strongly rejected what it's described as the deliberate misrepresentation of facts regarding some of it's content in the Life Orientation subject.

Picture: EWN

JOHANNESBURG - The Basic Education Department has strongly rejected what it's described as the deliberate misrepresentation of facts regarding some of its content in the Life Orientation subject.

It said it was concerned that certain organisations continued misleading the public by publishing false information, adding that this resulted in unnecessary panic among South Africans.

The new Life Orientation textbooks, which were set to be rolled out next year, have caused a stir following reports that children as young as 9-years-old would learn about masturbation, amongst other topics.

The department insisted that there was no new content that has been added to the Life Orientation subject in schools and said the comprehensive sexuality education had been part of the curriculum since the year 2000.

Spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga: "The consensus is that the conversation is moving away from the true objective of Life Orientation. One of the things we want to achieve is to empower children against sexual predators like paedophiles."

According to the department, the new curriculum would be targeted at grade 4 to 12 pupils and would cover a variety of subjects ranging from healthy lifestyles to sex education.

It said it rejected the notion that the content sexualises children, adding the lessons focus on teaching about the respect for self, for the body of others; and most importantly, for children to identify inappropriate physical interactions.

In a statement, the department said its strategy was informed by comprehensive research, stating that:

The 2016 review of International Technical Guidelines on Sexuality Education found that the evidence base for CSE had expanded since 2008. This rigorous scientific review found:

• CSE does not sexualise children;

• Sexuality education does not increase sexual activity, sexual risk-taking behaviour or STI/HIV infection rates.
On the contrary, CSE delays sexual debut and promotes safe sexual behaviour, Increases knowledge of different
aspects of sexuality and the risks of early and unintended pregnancy, HIV and other STIs;

• Decreases the number of sexual partners;

• Reduces sexual risk-taking;

• Increases the use of condoms and other forms of contraception.

The Department says it consulted extensively on curriculum and remains open to further consultation and engagement on this matter.

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