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Smart Choices: A Carefully Planned Solution

Life Orientation and life skills have been part of the South African school curriculum for years, teaching children about the various facets of adult life. However, the recently implemented Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme has provoked controversy.

Life Orientation and life skills have been part of the South African school curriculum for years, teaching children about the various facets of adult life. However, the recently implemented Comprehensive Sexuality Education programme has provoked controversy. There is unanimous agreement, on the one hand, that knowledge is empowering, and that the younger generation need guidance and support in this area of development. On the other hand, Christian parents, church leaders, and educators are concerned about the ‘comprehensive’ content, its origin and more importantly how it is presented in the classroom.

Dr Darleen Edwards-Meyer, founder of the Smart Life Movement Educational Package, asserts that parents must be vigilant at monitoring what is being taught to their children and how it is taught!

“Sexuality Education is a specialised field. Teachers need to be trained to ensure a positive learning experience for all children. Apart from the sensitive nature of the content, it is vital that educators consider the age and phase of development of each child. Some children will be at a different level of development and readiness, and some might have already encountered negative and harmful exposure. Other children may not be emotionally ready for some information. Confusing messages and early sexualisation of children is harmful to their well-being. There is already a high risk of this happening through the use of social media. Therefore, Sexuality Education should be presented with the utmost care, empathy, sensitivity, understanding and teaching skill by thoroughly equipped educators and parents.” – Dr. Darleen Edwards-Meyer

“When Sexuality Education becomes sex information it may lead to unwise relationship choices and sexually related problems” – Dr. Darleen Edwards-Meyer

So, who is Dr. Darleen Edwards-Meyer

Dr. Darleen Edwards-Meyer is currently an education consultant and conducts workshops for master trainers, educators, counsellors, parents, and youth. With 24 years’ professional research and experience in the field of relationship, family, and sexuality education, she is a specialist who is positioned to offer opinion, advice, and guidance. She is committed to a calling of positively impacting society by contributing towards relationship and sexual health, wellness, wholeness, and well-being for all, and ultimately nurturing, healthy harmonious, fulfilled relationships and families.

As a previous service provider for the Department of Education, numerous official South African programmes have been developed by Dr. Edwards-Meyer and implemented in schools and other organisations. She has authored and co-authored various articles and books in this field.

So, how does Dr Edwards-Meyer plan to tackle this issue? Smart Choices is a programme developed by Dr. Edwards-Meyer. It meets the CAPS alignment requirements, caters for staff training, and provides both teacher guides and learner workbooks. Information is presented in a sensitive manner and the training of teachers ensures a teaching methodology that considers the well-being of each child. These components make it a comprehensive solution for schools that are committed to providing a values-based and safe approach to the teaching of this sensitive material. At the training stage, schools can choose to follow the Christian programme which will equip Christian teachers with a biblical context and supporting scripture referencing.

Smart Choices is turning out to be a great programme, but every great idea will face some problems. Sexuality Education is a mandatory part of the South African school curriculum, and the intention is to equip young people with knowledge that will empower them to make positive choices and decisions for themselves as they navigate their lives towards adulthood. The greatest challenge is that many children are living in a sex-saturated world, and many have been exposed to far too much sexual content, far too early. This is compounded by the influence of broken and distorted relationships in homes and through multi-media that has found its way directly into homes and bedrooms. This makes for a complex and sensitive challenge in the classroom. Sadly, the biblical perspective does not always receive attention. For Christian parents a programme that is not based on the word of God may mean that children are learning a set of values that may contradict those which are upheld in the home. This may lead to a premature questioning of the home values and could sadly lead to conflict in the home and put relationships under strain.

What can Christian parents, educators and schools do about this situation? It is crucial that parents, educators, and schools begin to seek out a well-researched, wholesome curriculum that will meet the CAPS requirements, whilst ensuring a balanced and beneficial learning experience for all young learners.

The Smart Choices programme adopts a positive and age-appropriate approach to this challenging topic of education. Smart Choices considers the holistic development of each child, the value system of the community and provides a framework for sensible education in the classroom. The programme provides age-appropriate learner workbooks, training and scripted lesson plans for teachers, parents and counsellors covering the entire syllabus from Grade R – 12.

Seeking to learn more? Dr Darleen Edwards-Meyer can be contacted via her website https://drdarleen.co.za or email smartchoices@drdarleen.co.za

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