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Understanding government’s plan to give ten-year-olds condoms

Understanding government’s plan to give ten-year-olds condoms

by: Kgorula Bitterhout - 15 May 2015

The Department of Basic Education has recently come under fire for its plans to provide schoolkids with condoms. The plan, which is part of the department’s Draft National Policy on HIV, STI’s and TB, could see children as young as ten receive condoms. This has drawn outrage from the public with children’s support groups criticising the plan as a clumsy attempt to prevent teenage pregnancy while parents expressed that it shouldn’t be the government’s responsibility to provide their kids with condoms. We had a look at the policy and this is what it says:

What does the policy say?

Basic Education spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga says there has been a misunderstanding about the aims of the proposed policy.”We are not talking about condoms but prevention. We are also talking about how to teach about sex and sexuality,” he said. The policy outlines the department’s plans to improve its curriculum when it comes to teaching “age-appropriate life skills” especially when it comes sexuality, reproductiove health, relationships and responsibility therefore teaching will be based on promoting health. Furthermore, prevention of HIV and TB will feature more in classroom presentations and learners will also be educated about signs and symptoms of the diseases.

When asked about the plans to give 10-year-olds condoms he replied: “the policy has no such information”. However reading the policy tells a different story, with the document stating that “access to male and female condoms and information on their use will be made available to all learners in the Basic Education Sector”.

It’s not just about the condoms

But while the controversy has been centred on the above-mentioned points, the proposed policy isn’t just about condoms. The policy also intends to “improve the response to HIV and TB” as well as raise awareness about the diseases and prevention”. It notes that “children, particularly those living with, affected or made more vulnerable by these diseases, lie at the heart of this policy and its intent.” Because of this, the departments wants to “support and guide the welfare of these learners” while improving access to..treatment and care”.

Government is looking for your comments.

According to the department, we have a collective responsibility to prevent the spread of the above-mentioned diseases. Every person “directly or indirectly involved…must recognise that they have a responsibility to protect themselves and a moral and legal responsibility to protect others from HIV and TB infection,” the policy says. Mhlanga stresses that the policy is still in a draft phase and is open for public comment. “We’re asking the public to give suggestions. If you believe what we’re doing is wrong, you can give us an alternative. We don’t have all the solutions that’s why we have opened this up for members of the public,” he concludes.

The public has 21 days to respond to the proposed policy.LFPLive from Parliament casts a youth lens on parliament and government, covering committees, policy-making, MPs, and the sitting of actual Parliament. Our team of youth journalists report Live from Parliament every week in partnership with the People’s Assembly and Making All Voices Count.

The People’s Assembly connects people and their elected representatives. To stay in touch with your local MP, visit www.pa.org.za, follow them on Twitter @PeoplesAssem_SA or Facebook/PeoplesAssemblySA.

 

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