Comprehensive sexuality education: the experiences of teachers in one Bloemfontein secondary school
University of the Free State
Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is one of the most crucial programmes, among many, that can be entrusted with reducing the prevalent risky sexual behaviours to reduce the spread of HIV and AIDS, STIs and unintended childbearing among learners in South African schools. Formal CSE instruction is mainly limited to the Life Orientation (LO) classroom which is ineffective because of the influences on the subject content as a result of cultural differences. The main objective was to gain insight into the experiences (difficulties) of teachers teaching CSE in one selected secondary school in Bloemfontein, and to explore how teachers teaching the new structured CSE lessons in a selected secondary school in Bloemfontein deal with the challenges they may face. The study used the interpretive paradigm and draws on Dewey's education and experience theory. In this study, I used a semi-structured one-on-one interview to collect data from eight participants, allowing for probing and clarifying both questions and answers. The teachers' norms and attitudes that guide their teaching of CSE posed a severe danger to its effective delivery, as did the nuanced nature of the new CSE lessons. The study's findings revealed that teachers' experiences teaching the new structured CSE lessons in LO were unquestionably driven by their culture, religious orientation as well as their belief and value system. Teachers expressed their discomfort in teaching what they referred to as ‘sensitive topics’ in CSE, which were considered taboo in their community. They chose to exclude such topics and select what to teach based on their values and beliefs. The decision of what to teach and what not to teach compromised the intentions of the new structured CSE lesson plans. Participants also complained that CSE was a waste of their time because the high rate of teenage pregnancy remains unchanged and the relevant authorities had failed to give CSE the attention it deserves. They also reported that they had seen no improvements in the learners' behaviour since they were introduced to the programme. Participants also expressed their dissatisfaction with teaching the new structured CSE lessons, citing issues to do with the nature of the programme's content, and lack of proper consultation from the educationists about CSE implementation and monitoring in schools. Even though some teachers were convinced that CSE was designed to expose learners to explicit sex and pornographic issues at a young age, they discovered that it was not as bad as they thought. Participants explained that CSE enables learners to maximise their potential on the levels of the body, mind, soul, and society. Participants also suggested that through CSE, learners learn how to constructively relate to and contribute to family, community, and society while also living up to the principles outlined in the constitution. It gave pupils the opportunity to exercise their constitutional rights and obligations, respect others' rights, and show tolerance for differences in culture and religion in order to help create a democratic society. With CSE participants further learners were urged to learn and put into practice life skills that would enable them to respond positively to challenges and play an active and responsible role in the economy and society. They were also encouraged to make informed decisions, become morally accountable for their decisions about their health and their environment. CSE is a crucial subject that can help learners become fully reliable people and responsible members who can competently handle life’ challenges in their democratic society. However, teachers discovered later that CSE curriculum was not as atrocious as they had imagined. They further noticed that it was not intended to expose students to explicit sex and pornographic material at an early age. Therefore, CSE gives students the opportunity to reach their full potential on all levels of life being, physical, mental, spiritual, and social. In collaboration with UNESCO, I propose that the Department of Education (DoE) host seminars for parents, legislators, and cultural and religious leaders, to develop the support structure within the teaching sector focused on CSE. This study showed that, like any other subject in the classroom, CSE would be one of the most motivating factors for teachers if it received the attention it merits. I suggest that CSE be offered as a field of study at higher education institutions, allowing student-teachers with a CSE major to enrol.
Dissertation (M.Ed. (Education Studies))--University of the Free State, 2023
Comprehensive sexuality education, secondary school, Bloemfontein, teachers’ experiences