Members of School Governing Bodies (SGBs) and School Management Teams (SMTs) are critical school structures entrusted with the full responsibility to drive Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in school communities. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) therefore deemed it necessary to host a two-day CSE Orientation Workshop to capacitate SGBs and SMTs to be at the forefront CSE advocacy to fight social ills such as sexual abuse, whilst protecting learners against barriers to learning. CSE is also aimed at preventing teenage pregnancy and the spread of HIV and AIDs amongst school going children and the youth by teaching age-appropriate content.
The orientation workshop took place at Birchwood Hotel and Conference Centre in Boksburg, Gauteng Province from 30 to 31 August 2021. CSE has been part of the curriculum since 2000. In 2015, the DBE developed Scripted Lesson Plans (SLPs), which are currently being used in provinces to strengthen the teaching of CSE in schools. SLPs are learning and teaching support materials (LTSMs) that are designed to aid teachers and learners to address these important topics in a systematic manner.
Ms Mokgadi Matuludi, Project Manager for the Government to Government (G2G) Programme at the DBE, said that CSE is the most critical wing of G2G, which is entirely funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). “As part of the project implementation deliverable, the orientation workshop focused on 146 SGB members and 120 SMTs in 37 primary schools and 19 secondary schools in the Johannesburg South District. Due to the COVID-19 regulations, the orientation workshop was conducted over two days. The project will be rolling out orientation to parents and community members in the Johannesburg South District in collaboration with the Gauteng Department of Education (GDE) to capacitate community members. Furthermore, the G2G with GDE, SMTs and SGBs will recruit 56 Learner Support Agents to be placed in both primary schools and secondary schools. They will be expected to work closely with School Based Support Teams (SBST) to identity vulnerable learners and link learners with institutions where health care and psychosocial services are provided. These include, among others, the Department of Health, the Department of Social Development and the Department of Home Affairs. A three-day training session on CSE will be provided to Life Orientation and Life Skills educators in the Intermediate, Senior and FET phases. This is intended to prepare educators to teach CSE and to improve their content knowledge and skills required in delivering CSE through the SLPs”.
Ms Matuludi further added that the Department was thrilled by the SGBs’ participation and their willingness to work with schools in mobilising parents to create safer learning environments. “During an interactive session with participants, it was clear that some parents were more knowledgeable and understood the procedures to be followed when shielding learner’s rights against sexual abuse and harassment. Research findings indicate high birth rates amongst adolescents and teenagers. In addition, more than a third of girls and boys (35.4%) experience sexual violence before the age of 17. As stipulated in the Protocol for the Management and Reporting of Sexual Abuse and Harassment in Schools, the DBE is responsible for ensuring that sexual abuse and harassment is reported and managed accordingly. The fight against sexual abuse and harassment require collective efforts from national down to school level”.
In her address on 29 August 2021, Basic Education Minister, Ms Angie Motshekga, said the Department would mobilise stakeholders to work together to address the alarming rate of early and unwanted pregnancies amongst young people of school going age. “I therefore urge all education stakeholders to share a common goal in ensuring that learners’ rights are protected at all cost”.