The Democratic Alliance has asked the head of the parliamentary committees, the National Assembly House Chairperson of Committees, to intervene in the process of introducing the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) content planned for school students by the Department of Basic Education. The DA hopes that their request will yield positive results and provide relevant stakeholders with the opportunity to share their viewpoints on the planned content while also subjecting the content to expert evaluation.
Following previous reports by VOC, the controversial CSE content has ignited public outrage with many arguing that government is once again crossing the line and delving into the private realm of parenting. Faith-based organisations and political parties such as Freedom of Religion South Africa (FOR SA) and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) have come out in condemnation of the new sexual content proposed for young school students, likening it to “soft-porn” and warning that it has been proven ineffective in addressing the concerns of the South African government.
CSE, which exposes young school students to arguably inappropriate and explicit sexual content, has already been piloted in five provinces – including the Western Cape – and is likely to be formally introduced in all public schools in 2020.
DA shadow minister of basic education, Nomsa Marchesi says that although the Department of Basic Education conducted a presentation assuring the portfolio committee on basic education that there was nothing to be alarmed about, the DA requested sample textbooks to verify the department’s claims.
“We had a presentation from the department and they assured us that there isn’t much to be alarmed about because what they’ve done is just added the female reproductive curriculum… but by then we didn’t have the textbooks – which I requested soon after the meeting,” said Marchesi.
Despite the presentation, however, Marchesi explained that the DA continued to receive complaints and concerns around the CSE content and so continued to pursue proof within the textbooks.
Marchesi was hesitant to comment on her opinion of the content in a personal capacity, but did concede that she thinks there is ‘a little too much’ contained.
She wants stakeholders to have the opportunity express their viewpoints and concerns in a recognised and public participation process so that the portfolio committee can make a decision and get the content checked and evaluated by experts.
“If a parent is concerned about it and says they don’t want their children being given this information, we have to listen to parents and religious leaders,” she said.
Marchesi added that while she believes sexual education is crucial, we have to draw a line and not sexualise it. She stressed that sexual education content exists for the purpose of making learners aware of how to protect themselves, nothing more or less.
The DA hopes to receive insight into the next step forward in this issue by the end of this week.
Meanwhile, in what seems to be a haughty response from the minister of basic education, Angie Motshekga addressed demands made by parents and religious bodies for the right to ‘opt out’ of the controversial CSE content which some have argued infringe on their religious and familial rights.
Motshekga is reported by IOL as saying that parents have the choice to opt out of the sexuality curriculum by not permitting their children to attend the programmes, provided that parents could produce a fully compliant alternative. She stated this as a written response to a question posed by Marchesi, after Marchesi asked whether parents could reject the curriculum.