The Department of Basic Education have furiously denied that “masturbation” has found its way onto the Grade 4 curriculum in South African schools. The topic – which the Sunday Times reported was set to feature in Life Orientation classes – was allegedly going to be introduced to children as young as nine.
The article in question quoted a lifestyle doctor who said she’d helped design the curriculum, which also aimed to educate Grade 4 learners about gender neutrality and the benefits of yoga – effectively, it would have been a conservative parent’s worst nightmare.
Masturbation “will not be taught” to nine-year-olds
The department are as good as seething with the publication, however. The outline for the new curriculum has been released on Tuesday, and spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga rubbished claims that children aged 10 and under would be exposed to the topic of masturbation. He blamed the paper for causing “mass hysteria”, too:
“The article is misleading and in fact, a complete misrepresentation of the work the Department is doing. It’s unfortunate that the article published has now caused mass hysteria unnecessarily and has caused confusion.”
The new Life Orientation textbook for Grade 4 currently being written does not cover masturbation. The textbook content for sexuality education in this grade is guided by UNESCO’S technical guidance on sexuality education and includes input from highly respected South African institutions.”
Life Orientation: What will be on the Grade 4 curriculum?
It has been confirmed that masturbation is only a topic that gets covered from Grade 7 onwards when children hit their adolescent development phase between the ages of 12-13. Life Orientation for Grade 4 will focus on things like the environment, road safety and the dangers of smoking.
The closest the primary school kids will come to learning about the birds and the bees will be in an age-appropriate lesson which explains how babies are made. They will also be taught about cultural celebrations like Imbeleko – an event that takes place when families celebrate the birth of another child.