Exploring the experiences of educators teaching sexuality education in life orientation to grade 6 and 7 learners in a selected school in the Westville ward, Pinetown district.
Sililo, Ntombifuthi Julie Jane.
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This study explored the experiences of five educators teaching sexuality education in Life Orientation to Grades 6 and 7 learners in their classrooms in a selected primary school in the Westville Ward, in Pinetown District. Sexuality education is always a sensitive issue. The advocacy for teaching sexuality education in primary schools among other things seek to address not only the issues of sexual violence directed at young people and enable learners to make informed decisions regarding sexuality, but also to create an understanding of the development of one’s body and that of others and how to live in harmony with others as sexual beings. However, the appropriateness of the content in sexuality education and how it should be communicated to learners in schools appears to continuously raise grave concerns not only for educators but also for parents and communities. Teaching sexuality education in Life Orientation to Grade 6 and 7 learners is important because most of these learners have reached puberty and some do not know how to cope with the body changes. It is also important in the sense that children like to experiment, thus if they are better informed about the issues regarding sexuality, they will acquire skills that will assist them to make informed choices and knowledge of how to handle themselves in dire situations. In addition, the escalating rate of teenage pregnancies, HIV and AIDS and sexually transmitted infections (STI’S) could harm the lives of young people. This has raised serious concerns among educators because learners are victims. Educators alluded that, unless learners are equipped with knowledge and skills which will enable them to make informed choices regarding their lives, the teaching of sexuality education would seem a fruitless exercise. Notwithstanding the above, the educators’ culture, religious affiliations, belief systems and values is often disregarded by policy designers, parents and communities. This disregard of their culture, religious affiliations, belief systems and values which inform their teaching of the subject pose a threat to the effective delivery of this subject especially because of its sensitive nature. In addition to this, there are conservatives, some religious groups and some communities and parents who are still adamant and display negative attitudes, who view the teaching of sexuality as immoral, further exacerbate the educators’ plight. In light of the above, the study was undertaken, specifically targeted at exploring the experiences of educators teaching sexuality education in Life Orientation to Grades 6 and 7 learners in a chosen school. The bio-ecological model within which the multiple systems are embedded was adopted to provide the lens through which these educators’ experiences could be viewed and understood. The study revealed that the educators as human beings function within these different systems and that their teaching of sexuality education is in turn largely influenced by families which are the microsystems which include their cultural, religious affiliations, belief systems and values which are the macro systems. The Qualitative research methodology with a case study research design informed this study. The case study was chosen because it complemented the nature of this study as it attempted to understand a single case within its natural setting. The case study research design studies the situation in depth using interviews, observation, document analysis and written narratives as data collection techniques, which are typical in this research design. The study employed these data collection techniques. Findings from this study revealed that the educators’ experiences of teaching sexuality education in Life Orientation are indeed influenced by their cultures, religious affiliations, belief systems and values. Educators expressed their frustrations with regards to the teaching of sexuality education citing that the difficulties they experience are the result of the nature of the content taught and lack of proper consultation and guidance from parents, community structures and education personnel in teaching this subject.