Sexuality education and life-skills acquisition in secondary schools : guidelines for the establishment of health promoting schools
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Sexuality education has been introduced into the South African syllabus, on a very elementary level, in the Life Orientation learning area of Outcomes- Based Education widely known as Curriculum 2005. Unfortunately outcomes based education ends in Grade 9, leaving learners from Grade 10 -12 with the old syllabus that includes academic subjects only. Very few schools follow a sexuality education programme in Grades 10 - 12 on their own initiative, because it is not compulsory in these grades. The Health Promoting Schools' policies do not include a comprehensive sexuality education programme outline as yet, but when the life-skills approach that is taught in Life Orientation is considered, many similarities in these approaches are identified. Therefore, sexuality education should not be purely factual, but should be taught in conjunction with important life-skills. The two skills investigated in this study are the ability for adolescents to identify and avoid risk behaviour and to be able to make more responsible decisions. Two schools in the Bronkhorstspruit area were identified to take part in this project. School A has implemented a comprehensive sexuality education programme for all its learners and School B has not. The results of the data collected from the questionnaire completed by 100 respondents from the two schools indicated that those from School A had a significantly higher level of knowledge regarding sexuality and appeared to have far better life-skills than the respondents from School B. There was, however, no indication that that this knowledge affected their behaviour in any way. This doesn't mean, though, that the programme has been unsuccessful because the programme doesn't only teach abstinence, but also various methods of precaution. The long-term effect of comprehensive sexuality education has not yet been established because there are so few schools implementing it the way it should be and it is currently not implemented at a young enough age. Unhealthy behaviour patterns, reinforced by years of traditions and taboos, as well as the contradicting information given through the media, cannot be changed overnight. The process of intensive comprehensive sexuality education has only started in South Africa and, with time, a change in the behaviour patterns of adolescents and adults is anticipated.
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