The Democratic Alliance (DA) can reveal that the Committee Chairperson for the Portfolio Committee on Basic Education, Bongiwe Pricilla Mbinqo-Gigaba, has essentially refused to accede to the DA’s calls for further public participation and review of the proposed Comprehensive Sexual Education (CSE) curriculum for next year. This is tantamount to blocking public participation in the processes of parliament.
In a letter written to the Chairperson on 29 October 2019, the DA had requested an urgent meeting of the Portfolio Committee to discuss the new CSE curriculum with relevant stakeholders who have shown great concern with the content of the proposed CSE. Chairperson Mbinqo-Gigaba’s response on 1 November 2019 left much to be desired. The Chairperson indicated that the Department of Education had already given the Committee a detailed presentation on the matter. The DA has since written to the Chairperson of Committees, Cedric Frolick, notifying him of the issue and further clarifying our stance.
While the DA is aware that the Department has already briefed the Committee, the outcry and concerns among parents and teachers alike require a meeting of all the relevant stakeholders and not simply a briefing from the Department. It is thus essential for the Committee to allow other relevant, and concerned stakeholders, the opportunity to display their own presentations to the Committee.
There has been much outcry over the CSE from parents and other civil organizations regarding the curriculum’s content.
The CSE clearly requires an open dialogue between all the relevant stakeholders to give those who are concerned an opportunity to make presentations and to give the Department and indeed Parliament an opportunity to hear their concerns. Chairperson Mbinqo-Gigaba’s dismissal of such a request is tantamount to the active prevention of public participation in Parliament and prevents any form of open dialogue from taking place with concerned citizens.
The DA is of the view that sex education must strike a careful balance between equipping young people with the information they need to make the right choices, without unintentionally over-sexualizing learners.