Sat Sep 23 00:23:49 CAT 2017

State to step up sex education at school

By Loyiso Sidimba | 2017-05-24 13:23:46.0

The government plans to offer birth control, abortions, male and female condoms, and pregnancy and HIV testing as part of comprehensive sexual education at schools.

This is among the state's draft proposals in the national strategic plan for HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and sexually transmitted infections 2017-2022.

The government intends to roll out "youth-friendly sexual and reproductive health services (SRHS) in schools" to pupils, orphans and vulnerable children.

In terms of the plan, in high-priority districts, the SRHS will include counselling on contraception and voluntary medical male circumcision, provision of contraception and condoms, pregnancy testing and HIV testing.

Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa launched the plan in Free State in March.

It is said the state will also provide compatible lubricant and condom programmes in all public and private health facilities, in secondary schools, tertiary institutions and non-traditional community settings.

This is part of the government's goal of reducing new HIV infections to less than 100000 by 2022.

TB literacy will also be markedly improved through working with municipalities to use schools as sites for TB screening.

But the African Christian Democratic Party Western Cape leader Ferlon Christians accused the government of taking parenting away from parents. "The solution is to tell [and] teach our youngsters to stay away from sex and enjoy being at school," he said.

According to Christians, offering school children the choice of termination of pregnancy was condoning killing.

SA Democratic Teachers' Union deputy general secretary Nkosana Dolopi said while these interventions may be noble, the way they are introduced without consultation defeats their noble intentions.

"In many instances they don't consult. How do they think these things will be implemented?" he said.

Dolopi said many teachers were not trained in health provision.

National Association of School Governing Bodies general secretary Matakanye Matakanye said the deal for schools across the country was that health workers would visit schools on certain days.

"Health workers will bring the condoms and learners will decide whether they need them. They won't be dumped in schools," he said.