South African Teachers Union threatens to boycott Grade 4 curriculum
Parents have been up in arms since it was incorrectly reported that the new Grade 4 curriculum would include classes on masturbation and gender nonconformity. It appears that teachers are just as against the idea of the inclusion of these subjects...
The SAOU wants to be more involved in defining the updated Grade 4 curriculum (iStock)
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It is known that the Department of Basic Education (DBE) is currently in the process of overhauling the Grade 4 Life Skills Curriculum, and it was recently, erroneously, reported that amendments to this curriculum would include topics with specific sexual content including masturbation and gender nonconformity. 

While parents let their objections be known, the South African Teachers Union (SAOU) has now also released a statement stressing that while improvements to the curriculum are welcomed, any amendments must be made in a rational, objective and well thought through manner.

Despite the Department of Basic Education refuting the news report, and denying that such topics will be covered in the updated curriculum, the SAOU’s member have suggested that if such plans were to be approved, they would boycott the curriculum.

DBE spokesperson, Elijah Mhlanga, clarified that only grade 7 pupils will be taught about the transformation of the human body. 

"Communities will undermine and boycott" 

However, the SAOU's statement today reveals that the Union is particularly concerned about the task team that is currently making these amendments to the curriculum.

"The DBE must use informed advisors when such crucial amendments are made to the curriculum" and "any amendment to the curriculum must surely be age- and peer appropriate," the statement reads, emphasising that the content must be on such a level that it will assist nine- and ten year-old children to make more informed decisions. 

"A one size fits all approach will definitely not suffice. If the DBE does not involve the SAOU, parent bodies and other stakeholders, and recognise and respect the different mores held by various communities, it will find that communities will undermine and boycott any implementation process as the absolutely required ownership will not be taken." 

"Extremely sensitive and volatile"

"The DBE must realise the matter under discussion is extremely sensitive and volatile and the current unilateral approach will not dispel serious and real concerns. In fact, it will only harden attitudes," the Union said.

The SAOU is currently conducting a survey to determine the mood and acceptance of their members in connection with the matter, and the results will be used as a yardstick to determine the SAOU’s final mandate to support or reject the envisaged changes. 

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Read more:

Department of Education slams claims of masturbation lessons for Grade 4 pupils

"Teach manners and morals first please": Our parents weigh in on school sex-ed policies

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