Teachers' perceptions of the teaching of sexuality education in secondary schools in Pinetown district.
This study examines the way in which ten teachers in two schools In the Pinetown District view sexuality education. Sexuality education is part of the Life Orientation curriculum and teachers thus have an obligation to teach it. Teacher's perceptions of the teaching of sexuality education in secondary schools are significant because in secondary schools are found learners who have reached adolescence and are likely to be sexually active and curious. The secondary literature on sexuality education indicates that there are numerous difficulties associated with teaching it, despite pressing reasons that it be well taught to all school learners. High rates of teenage pregnancy and HIV infection in young learners, particularly in South Africa, indicate the need for sexuality education. Difficulties in delivering successful sexuality education include parental resistance, conservative cultural and religious education, poor policy and inadequately trained or poorly motivated teachers. Learners need sexuality education to enable them to make informed decisions about their sexual health and to assist them with developing their sexual identities. Sexuality is deeply gendered and this means that sexuality education should be informed by a knowledge of gender and a commitment to gender equality (which includes being sensitive to issues of sexual orientation. Under apartheid the schooling system was divided along racial lines and schools were inequitably resourced . This has meant that today the schools formerly designed to provide education solely to Africans remain poorly resourced and ill-equipped to deliver sexuality education . Ten educators of grade 8 to 12 learners in two Hammarsdale schools, five male and five female and all African, isiZulu speakers, were involved in this study as respondents. They completed a questionnaire and participated in a focus group interview. It was found that no sexuality education was given in Grades 11 and 12 but some sexuality education was given to the junior grades, particularly Grade 9. 30% of the teachers had no training and only 20% had tertiary training for delivering sexuality education. Half were trained via Departmental workshops but as far as the teachers were concerned, this training was not adequate and left them feeling uncomfortable teaching certain topics. 90% of the sample felt that their school does not have sufficient resources to assist in the teaching of sexuality education and only a third of respondents indicated that the school management supported them in teaching sexuality education. 80% of the educators said that sexuality education was not included in the timetable while only 10% of educators maintained that they received support from parents. The teachers said that the impact of sexuality education was undermined by parent resistance, conservative cultural and religious values and by the fact that some teachers had covert sexual relationships with learners. The teachers noted that it was the learners who were most at risk who somehow were not included in or reached by the messages in sexuality education Female educators, in general, were more positive confident about the beneficial effects of sexuality education for boys and girls. It is obviously necessary that steps be taken to improve the delivery of sexuality education and such steps should include working with parents, improving sexuality education training and promoting peer education.