Teachers' experiences in teaching sexuality education in the foundation phase in rural schools in the Ugu District.
The study sought to understand teachers’ experiences in teaching sexuality education in the Foundation Phase in rural schools in the Ugu District. The aim of sexuality education in schools is to promote and enable a learner to ultimately become a sexually responsible man or woman. The rapid rise of sexuality-related challenges that our communities face sends a clear message that there is a desperate need for our learners to be taught sexuality education effectively. It is important to investigate how teachers experience the teaching of sexuality education since they are the main role-players in teaching learners sexual responsibility so that learners are not adversely affected by poorly built foundational teaching during the early years of their schooling. The study took place in Port Shepstone, located on the Lower South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal in the Ugu District. Nine Foundation Phase teachers from three schools (Mbisho, Masenge and Mandisa primary schools) were involved. I used a qualitative research design. To elicit more valid data, one-on-one interviews, a focus-group discussion and lesson observations were conducted. The main finding of the study was that it was evident that the teaching of sexuality in the three schools is largely shaped by teachers’ cultural and religious belief systems within their different social contexts. Lesson observations revealed that teachers avoid explaining issues of sexuality as much as possible to their learners, because it would compromise the teachers’ beliefs. The community as the custodian of moral values has generally transferred the problem of silence on sexual matters which caused teachers to be faced with immense difficulties in teaching the subject because sexuality education is an unwelcome topic to some. Findings also revealed that those who teach sexuality education are not adequately trained and often feel uncomfortable with the content of the pedagogical style. Some teachers were afraid that addressing issues of sexuality would encourage sexual activity on the part of learners, and that parents would blame them for this; they also feared that parents would feel that it is inappropriate for teachers to talk about sexuality education to learners who are so young. Parents need empowerment in so far as sexuality education teaching is concerned. There should be programmes focusing on teacher professional development and mentoring. There is a need for collaboration between teachers, parents, churches and community leaders, non-profit organizations (NPOs) and youth leaders, and to have campaigns to break the silence about sexuality.