Sexuality Education: The Hidden Role of Teachers in the Classroom
One of the greatest challenges in South Africa is the teaching of sexuality in schools as teachers are not only expected to accommodate the myriad of cultures and backgrounds of learners in their classrooms, but also acknowledge that their own personal beliefs could influence the messages conveyed to learners. Effective communication must be viewed as one of the most powerful tools to address the HIV and AIDS pandemic, and in addition prepare youth for one of the major challenges: responsible sexual behaviour. This study is based on examining the attitudes of teachers towardstheir responsibility or lack thereof concerning sexuality education. A qualitative research design was used to collect data through interviews with 26 teachers, of which one was a focus group interview with 15 of the participants. The findings highlight the fact that most teachers felt that they were not responsible for sexuality education, and seemed surprized that they have the capacity to influence youth. Their lack ofinvolvement is justified by blaming culture and religion for their discomfort. With these findings in mind, it is proposed that the focus should be placed on teacher-training to become active role players and role models to keep “in touch” with learners’ needs.
Keywords— Sexuality education, HIV and AIDS, Teachers, Learners.