Sex ed 'sidelines people living with disabilities'

Ubisi says pupils with special needs are excluded in CSE

Stock photo.
Stock photo.
Image: 123RF/ANDREY POPOV

University of Pretoria lecturer Lindokuhle Ubisi says sexuality in comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) does not accommodate people with disabilities. 

In his presentation at the colloquium hosted by the department of basic education on CSE in Pretoria yesterday, Ubisi said the subject of disability and sexuality only comes up in grade 10, despite CSE being taught from grade 4.

"There are no appropriate resources and materials for people living with disability. The CSE material is mostly visual, auditory and in written formats, which are not inclusive to people living with disability. Teachers are not comfortable with having assistive sexual devices in CSE for learners with visual impairment," Ubisi said.

CSE has been part of the curriculum since 2000 and there were only changes made in 2015 when the department developed scripted lesson plans (SLP) which are currently being tested in 1,572 schools in Gauteng, Mpumalanga, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State.

Ubisi said there was also limited research conducted to understand the needs and knowledge of teachers in schools for learners with special needs.

"Often the barrier for teachers teaching CSE is navigating sensitive content with confidence," Ubisi said.

Likho Bottoman, director social cohesion and equity in education, spoke about a special school response to transgender learner needs and implications for CSE delivery.

"Youth with transgender identities in schools are likely to be excluded from the learning environment because schools uphold gender binary cultures. Facilities such as bathrooms, changing rooms, school uniform have clear gender boundaries. Schools are mandated to cater for all learners regardless of background and orientation," he said. 

Making a presentation on introducing CSE in schools, the department's Muzi Ndlovu said one of the recommendations was for the department to develop lesson plans to guide the provision of sexuality education in life skills and life orientation caps for grade 4 to 12.

"The scripted lesson plans are designed to assist educators to teach scientifically accurate evidence, informed, culturally appropriate sexual education with life skills and life orientation in the classroom.

The CSE on the SA curriculum is not on sexual pleasures but on prevention of HIV, STIs, early and unintended pregnancy. Images used in curriculum are asked on protocols and standards set by the department that ensures protection of human dignity and rights and does not expose learners to offensive content," Ndlovu said.

Ndlovu said the department was facing challenges with content gap and educator capacity to teach CSE.

Prof Anthony Brown, the head of the department of educational psychology at the University of Johannesburg, said they were aware that things were not easy but were committed in joining the department in this journey. 

"Life orientation should stay on curriculum body of universities. We need to develop a curriculum for life orientation specialists," Brown said. 

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