Sex classes for pre-teens
The government is pushing for children as young as 10 to be given sex classes at primary schools.
A survey by the Department of Health revealed last week that the prevalence of HIV in pregnant girls aged between 10 and 14 had risen by 9.1%.
Health Minister Aaron Motsoaledi is finalising the plan.
Basic Education Minister Angie Motshekga welcomed the proposal, and will, together with Motsoaledi, announce the details - including the grades that will be given sex education classes - next year.
A plan to distribute condoms at schools was condemned two years ago on the grounds that it would encourage teenagers to have sex.
Motshekga's spokesman, Hope Mokgatlhe, said yesterday that sex education should be offered to young pre-teens if the government wanted to win the war on HIV and teen pregnancy.
"We can't run away from the fact that young people are having sex. We can't close our eyes and say they are not having sex when they are falling pregnant from as early as 10 years old," she said.
Mokgatlhe said the proposal would have to be considered by the cabinet before it could be implemented, and a national debate on it would be welcomed.
The parliamentary portfolio committee on health last week welcomed Motsoaledi's proposal.
Committee chairman Bevan Goqwana reportedly said that there had been an increase in teenage pregnancies.
Health spokesman Fidel Hadebe said the sex education proposal was merely part of a bigger plan. He said the full plan, which would specify the minimum age at which pupils could be taught about sex, would be made public when researchers had finished compiling a draft report.
"We can't have a situation in which young girls are becoming mothers. This is bad, this is ugly," he said.
But the president of the African Christian Democratic Party, the Reverend Kenneth Meshoe, blasted the proposal and blamed the government's decision to introduce sex education during life orientation classes for contributing to teenage pregnancies .
Maulana Ihsaan Hendricks, president of the Muslim Judicial Council, said that, though the council welcomed educational initiatives, that did not mean that it agreed with all aspects of the plan.
"In the Islamic community, we don't believe in using a condom; we believe in abstinence."