Teachers differ on of life orientation training as a subject at schools

Penwell Dlamini

Penwell Dlamini

Life orientation replaced guidance education as a subject at schools three years ago with the aim of fighting HIV-Aids head-on.

But a recent Gauteng education department report on teenage pregnancy suggests the strategy may not be working. One school in Soweto alone had 71 pregnancies last year.

Life orientation teachers have different views about the subject, its content and effectiveness.

Dolly Ndlovu, who teaches at Daliwonga High School in Soweto said: "The subject is meant to tackle issues of sexuality among high school teens."

She said the subject included self esteem, personal development, relationships, sexuality and other life skills.

In the last few years, Daliwonga had fewer than three pregnancies a year.

Ndlovu said: "It has changed the attitude of pupils to sex."

She attributed Daliwonga's relatively low pregnancy levels to regular morning prayers which include pastors preaching and teachers giving motivational talks.

The school runs its own HIV-Aids awareness programme, conducted by pupils' peer counsellors.

Ndlovu enjoys the complete trust of her pupils. They come to her regularly for advice on their parents and sexuality.

She attributes this to her personality and the school environment. Daliwonga has had an average 92percent matric pass rate in the last three years.

Raymond Sekwakwa has been teaching for 21 years, and 10 years of that was spent teaching guidance education at Soweto's Orlando High School.

He thinks life orientation is not making any difference to the behaviour of pupils.

"Pupils just take it as a subject where they listen to the teacher, and do the homework."

He said Daliwonga pupils "love sex like all the other kids" and do not understand the objective of the subject. He suggested a new method of presentation, time and greater parental involvement.

But Zonke Mkhize of Zwelibanzi High School in Umlazi, Durban is sceptical about parental involvement.

"When we talk about sexuality in class and pupils talk about it at home, parents think we are teaching kids how to have sex and be corrupt."