Study on Sexual Education among Life Orientation Educators at Secondary Schools
Ms Busisiwe Khathi of the Discipline of Nursing has graduated with a Master’s in Nursing degree with a dissertation titled: “An Exploration of Educators’ Experiences in Implementing Sexuality Education in selected eThekwini-based Secondary Schools”.
Khathi’s study, supervised by the Dean of the School of Nursing and Public Health, Professor Busisiwe Ncama, posed the critical question of how educators were identified and selected to present the subject of sexual education in Life Orientation (LO) to secondary schools.
Some of the questions Khathi posed in the study were: What training did the educator(s) receive to offer the sexuality education/ LO programme? What content of sexuality did they cover in classes when teaching LO? How have the educators experienced teaching sexuality education/ LO so far? What support do they receive and what barriers do they encounter?
The study was conducted at eThekwini-based secondary schools, north of Durban. Using an exploratory qualitative approach to explore educators’ experiences in implementing sexuality education, educators’ experiences were examined through in-depth face to face interviews. Altogether, seven Life Orientation (LO) educators were interviewed in this study.
‘The Department of Education (DoE) trains and develops LO educators continuously through the educators’ network and the results showed this,’ said Khathi. ‘It was learned from the LO educators that there are four learning outcomes in Life Orientation teaching and that sexuality education is embedded in Health Promotion or Personal Wellbeing learning outcomes. Some LO educators commented that not much emphasis is placed on sexuality education. They indicated the need for educators to be trained on short skills courses like HIV counselling and Rape victim management.’
Some educators experienced difficulties in dealing with the HIV positive learners and those who have been sexually abused. This sensitive aspect thus challenged the DoE to gradually train and update the educators on short courses like HIV counselling, dealing with rape and teenage pregnancies to improve LO educators’ confidence when faced with such situations in a classroom during LO education.
Educators had expressed that having sexuality education embedded in another aspect of LO limited the information that was given, as the educators are guided by the DoE guidelines. ‘Health education is considered crucial for the prevention of disease and the promotion of better health,’ said Khathi. ‘The DoE needs to develop a deeper understanding of the educators experiences in relation to the significant deviation in scholars based on what they learn and what they do. In an effort to understand the contradiction between what is known and what is practiced when providing sexuality education, this study explores the experiences of educators in providing the Life Orientation (LO) education to understand the environment in which they operate.’
Khathi is currently based at a local institutionalised facility at eThekwini Municipality – Red Hill. She is hoping that with the new certificate in Nursing, she would be able to become more involved in community outreach projects to get to the needs of the community. In her spare time, she enjoys networking and travelling.
- Zakia Jeewa