The Sunday Times article, ‘Sex lessons for modern grade 4s in new life orientation curriculum’ (12 May 2019), drew strong reactions from educators and parents alike. The article discussed the Department of Basic Education’s proposed changes to the content for sex education as part of the life skills curriculum. According to the article, the revised content includes explicit details for learners as young as ten. The department argues that the inclusion of sex education in the curriculum is aligned to UNESCO’s international technical guidance on sexuality education. In response to the article, the Department of Education denied that explicit information will be included in new textbooks.
How does this affect Impaq and our customers?
We create our own content, aligned to the Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS), for Grades R to 9. Any changes to the curriculum are reviewed, interpreted and incorporated into our material, considering our market and our core values. The current changes under discussion for life skills and life orientation are only recommendations and not official policy changes.
With this in mind, we have taken the position that the curriculum for the Intermediate and Senior Phases remains unchanged and under personal and social wellbeing we will cover topics such as respect for own and others’ bodies, appropriate responses to bullying, the basic facts of HIV and Aids, children’s rights and responsibilities, cultures and moral lessons. Updating the current books for life skills and life orientation is not a priority at this stage.
Once the changes to the curriculum are made official, Impaq will deal with the sexual-related content and topics in an age-appropriate and sensitive manner. We respect the role and rights of parents to decide what is best for their children. Our approach will be to provide the facilitator with detailed content while still allowing them to determine the level of detail they deem appropriate to share with learners.
We want to assure parents and educators that we will always strive to implement curriculum changes around sensitive issues with care and circumspection.
By Rita Niemann and Willemien von Solms