Human Rights Council - 52nd Session
Outcome of the Universal Periodic Review - South Africa
Thank you, President,
Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the SRHR Africa Trust, the PACT, and the Sexual Rights Initiative.
We welcome the numerous recommendations made to South Africa on adolescent and youth SRHR, access to modern contraceptives, termination of pregnancy services and on accelerating a funded, coordinated, and measurable response to gender-based violence and femicide. We regret the lack of recommendations pertaining to comprehensive sexuality education and remain concerned about its delivery in schools.
The COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent closures of schools, has resulted in the de-prioritization of the life orientation curriculum, and disrupted the delivery of in-school CSE. The reprioritisation and redirection of funds towards the national Covid-19 response has also caused delays in the CSE roll-out throughout the country. The budget cuts and repurposing of funds meant that there was little funding remaining for Life Skills teacher training and for CSE in school delivery.
These disruptions come at a time when South Africa has recorded a sharp increase in learner pregnancies as well as in new HIV infections among adolescent girls and young women, a situation that is exacerbated by lockdowns and by protracted school closures in response to the pandemic.
There is also a need to consider, in consultation with CSO partners and young people, the digitization of CSE in some settings to meet the needs of older and out of school adolescents. This would accelerate positive SRH outcomes amongst these demographics. Digitization is key as digital penetration continues to expand, and more adolescents and young people resort to social and new media as their primary source of information, education, and knowledge, on sex and sexuality.