#SOUTHAFRICA: The Department of Basic Education have denied that “masturbation” will make up part of the Grade 4 curriculum in South African schools.
This follows the uproar from the public after a Sunday Times story stated that the new additional curriculum – for 9 year old students – was to feature in Life Orientation (LO) classes.
The article titled “Grade 4s to learn about masturbation in new life orientation curriculum,” has started a debate, which continues in radio talk shows and social media platforms.
The article is misleading and in fact, a complete misrepresentation of the work the Department is doing.
The journalist, Prega Govender of Sunday Times, has failed the readers of the newspaper and indeed the South African public by providing false information. In the article he quotes the Director-General Mr Mathanzima Mweli, but what Mr Govender doesn’t say is that the conversation he had with the DG was on a separate but related matter.Elijah Mhlanga
According to the press statement the following are being outlined in the new curriculum
- The new Life Orientation textbook for Grade 4 currently being written does not cover masturbation.
- The textbook content for sexuality education in this grade is guided by UNESCO’S International technical guidance on sexuality education: an evidence-informed approach (2018), as well as by the input and guidance of research and evidence-based highly respected South African institutions.
- The Grade 4s will learn, in a most age appropriate and sensitive way, how babies are made and encourages learners to share what celebrations they know of linked to welcoming children into the world, such as Imbeleko.
- The lesson set also covers being unique and special, healthy lifestyle choices with food and other substances, the importance of respecting each other and oneself, and understanding what a personal boundary is, as well as understanding the concept of privacy.
- Grade 4 learners will practice skills such as identifying safe and unsafe behaviours within the context of personal lifestyle e.g. smoking, crossing the road in a safe way, as well as behaviours that are healthy or unhealthy for the environment.
Life Orientation: What will be on the Grade 4 curriculum?
It has been confirmed that masturbation is only a topic that gets covered from Grade 7 onwards when children hit their adolescent development phase between the ages of 12-13. Life Orientation for Grade 4 will focus on things like the environment, road safety and the dangers of smoking.
The closest the primary school kids will come to learning about the birds and the bees will be in an age-appropriate lesson which explains how babies are made. They will also be taught about cultural celebrations like imbeleko – an event that takes place when families celebrate the birth of another child.