The department of basic education has dismissed a recent media report that grade 4 learners would be taught about masturbation in schools, as being “misleading”.
“The report is a complete misrepresentation of the work the department is doing,” said basic education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.
The report, titled ‘Grade 4s to learn about masturbation in new life orientation curriculum’, was published in this weekend’s edition of the Sunday Times.
It has sparked a fierce debate in radio talk shows and social media platforms.
In a statement issued on Monday, Mhlanga said the department wanted to distance itself from the report.
“The journalist who wrote the article has failed readers and the public by providing false information,” he said.
“It’s unfortunate the article has now caused mass hysteria unnecessarily and has caused confusion.”
Mhlanga said the new Life Orientation textbook for Grade 4 currently being written does not cover masturbation.
He said the textbook content for sex education in this grade is guided by Unesco as well as research by highly respected South African institutions.
“Grade 4s will learn, in a most age appropriate and sensitive way, how babies are made,” said Mhlanga.
“The lesson set also covers 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,” he said.
Mhlanga said grade 4 learners will practice skills such as identifying safe and unsafe personal lifestyle behaviour such as smoking and crossing the road in a safe way.
“The department will be surprised if this particular lesson set causes outrage among learners, parents, teachers – or the media – around age inappropriateness. We wonder what the motive of the journalist is in this regard.
“Our Grade 4 learners are precious and we urge the media to in future to contact us for accurate information regarding this vital textbook project.”
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) leader Kenneth Meshoe said his party was shocked by the news report.
“There is no way that the ACDP, which promotes family values, will sit back and allow the minds of our children to be polluted by government,” he said.
“We are going to fight against this attempt to indoctrinate South African children.”
Source: Pretoria East Rekord