A critical analysis of sexuality education in schools beyond the disciplinary boundaries of life orientation
Chaka, John Ngwanya
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Sexuality education has become the cornerstone in curbing the risks of risky behaviours in an effort to decrease the spread of HIV and AIDS. However, formal instruction regarding sexuality education is primarily isolated to the Life Orientation classroom, and has been found to be ineffective as cultural diversity influences what content should be taught and subsequently what is being taught. The primary aim of this study is twofold, (1) to investigate the perceptions of teachers not teaching Life Orientation regarding theri responsibility in the teaching of sex and sexuality, and (2) to investigate sexual messages that learners receive from their teachers. The form of this study is presented through two publishable articles, where article 1 investigates the perception of teachers as to whether they responsibility in teaching sexuality education while article 2 investigates learner perceptions of messages received from their teachers. Article 1 is framed through constructivist theory as a means to understand how teachers construct and perceive their social environment and interact therewith accordingly. Through the use of semi-structured interviews, 16 teachers from the Free State province reported on their perceptions of comprehensive sexuality education. While consensus was reached that sexuality education is important many teachers felt it was not their role to teach learners about sexuality. It is further found that background influences such as culture and religion greatly impact the manner in which teachers perceive and approach sexuality education. It was further found that younger teachers felt they have a responsibility in teaching sexuality education, while older teachers expressed greater discomfort and less accountability in the area. Article 2 investigates the perceptions learners as to what messages they receive from teachers regarding sexuality education. A total of 16 learners communicated, through drawing pictures, and providing short narratives, their perceptions about sexuality within their school. It was found that teacher role-modelling greatly influence learner perceptions, which is in practice often problematic to social justice as many teachers engage in sexual misconduct and risky behaviours. The two articles together suggest the need to bring accountability to all teachers as to their teaching methodologies and their responsibility of teaching learners healthy sexual attitudes and values. It is suggested that teachers become more sensitive to their role as models within the area of comprehensive sexuality education.
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