Challenges of Including Sex Education in the Life Orientation Programme Offered by Schools: The Case of Mahikeng, North West Province, South Africa

Akim J. Mturi, Andre L. Bechuke

Abstract

Teenage pregnancy and the prevalence of HIV among school girls are very high in South Africa, despite the introduction of sexuality education in schools since 2002. A qualitative approach of inquiry was used to investigate challenges faced by schools offering sexuality education in Mahikeng, South Africa. Four school principals, seven teachers and 39 learners were interviewed. The curriculum on sexuality education indicates that sexual matters are introduced to learners only when they reach Grade 8, whereas pregnancy is already common among girls as early as Grade 3. Participants from all groups represented in the study revealed that Life Orientation was not taken seriously in schools compared to other subjects. Although learners are very much interested in the subject matter, there were no qualified teachers and the content of the curriculum is very shallow. In addition, schools paid very little attention to this subject since it is not considered for admission into tertiary institutions. There is need, therefore, for the South African government to revise the curriculum content and presentation of Life Orientation to ensure the improvement of sexuality education in schools. The appropriate age-specific topics on sexual matters for learners should also be revised and the qualification of teachers considered. (Afr J Reprod Health 2019; 23[3]: 134-148).

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