ACDP Member of Parliament Cheryllyn Dudley today called on the Departments of Basic and Higher Education “to conduct a public participation process for all stakeholders to deliberate on the content of any proposed sex education curriculum. 

As the situation stands presently, meaningful engagement with the draft policy on CSE is not possible without having insight into the exact content of CSE curricula”.

Dudley says that, “education about healthy sexuality and sexual choices has an important role in assisting learners to make choices that are in their best interest but the method, message and by whom the education is done, are important considerations.  In formulating a policy response to the issue of prevention and management of learner pregnancies the department must keep in mind that sex education is primarily the responsibility of parents and guardians.

“The ACDP is painfully aware of current realities which include an explosion of learner pregnancies and underage marriages that family and cultural beliefs and customs have significant influence over. Family finances, and widespread hardship and poverty are also motivating factors in terms of sex for sale and dowries.  For example, before a dowry is paid in arranged marriages a baby must first be produced.  Interference in family and cultural matters is not desirable and should always be an exception and not the rule making this a very sensitive issue.”

“The Commission for Gender Equality told the Portfolio Committee on Social Development in Parliament on Wednesday that almost 100,000 underage children in South Africa are married. The legal position is that marriages in which one of the partners is younger than 18, written consent is necessary to obtain a marriage certificate from the Department of Home Affairs.  The commission pointed out however that in most instances, mothers, uncles and other relatives of the 91,000 underage children had agreed on dowries for children as young as 14-years-old confirming that the marriages have family approval.

“The ACDP is calling on the Department to recognise that it is in the best interest of children to work with and through parents and families giving instruction on sex education to parents and supporting parents in their effort to guide their children.  Training parents on matters such as the sexual habits of children, the importance of teaching children about healthy sexuality and sexual choices and its consequences; and even providing parents with condoms and contraceptives to provide to their children if they require it, in the context of a discussion in the home about sexuality, sexual choices and consequences.”

“The ACDP further calls on the Departments of Education to explain the claim or assumption that CSE is desirable and beneficial, and to provide evidence of how CSE will reduce the incidence of learner pregnancies. The most recent research we have indicates that, ‘It is far more likely to see evidence of failure than success in international school-based CSE’ and that CSE ‘may be doing more harm than good’.

“The ACDP has already expressed itself in terms of its opposition to the propagating of abortion among children as a means to manage ‘unintended’ pregnancies.  Of course all concerned would like to find an easy way out of such situations but there is no easy way out - only the right thing to do which brings the greatest rewards long term for all concerned.”

9 July 2018