Angie Moshekga says comprehensive sex education in schools will prevent HIV and GBV
Basic education minister Angie Motshekga says comprehensive sex education in schools is important for preventing HIV, early and unintended pregnancies and gender-based violence (GBV).
Motshekga was speaking at the UN educational, scientific and cultural organisation (Unesco) on Wednesday.
She said adolescents and young people have a right to sex and reproductive health education.
“To ensure that our adolescents and young people become champions of their lives and responsible citizens empowered to contribute to the development of their world, achieving positive educational outcomes is critical.”
Though there have been challenges, the country has been able to implement sex education and reproductive health services in schools.
“We are making great strides, though we continue to experience challenges regarding reproductive health and the wellbeing of our adolescents and youth,” Motshekga said.
Challenges include new HIV infections reported to be at about 1,300 per week among adolescent girls and young women, the number of childbirths among adolescent girls and GBV, which President Cyril Ramaphosa has called a second pandemic in SA.
Last year Motshekga pleaded with parents to reconsider objections to sex education in schools after an increase in teenage pregnancies during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She vowed to intensify the rollout of sex education in schools.
Motshekga said her department could not ignore the matter because it impacts negatively on the work done in the sector.
“We are concerned about the alarming rate of teenage pregnancies. Let us be clear that it is not just a problem in Gauteng, it is a national crisis. Most of these teenagers are of school-going age.
“It is a serious indictment on all of us as a society and we need to reflect deeply on this crisis and take urgent action to arrest the moral decay.”
The department and its stakeholders would intensify implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE), which aims to empower young people with age-appropriate information.
“We will need to mobilise our communities and stakeholders to unite against this scourge. The time has come to bury our differences with the religious sector, traditional leadership, parents, guardians and all others who opposed the implementation of CSE,” she said.