In a statement on Monday, the DBE said the article, which has caused a stir on social media platforms, is misleading and a complete misrepresentation of the work the department is doing.
"In the article, he quotes the Director-General Mr Mathanzima Mweli. But what Mr Govender doesn't say is that the conversation he had with the DG was on a separate but related matter," said DBE spokesperson Elijah Mhlanga.
Dismissing the article, which he said has caused mass hysteria unnecessarily and confusion, Mhlanga outlined the facts as follows:
2) The textbook content for sexuality education in this grade is guided by UNESCO'S International technical guidance on sexuality education (an evidence-informed approach), as well as by input and guidance of research and evidence-based highly respected South African institutions.
3) The Grade 4s will learn, in an age-appropriate and sensitive way, how babies are made and encourage learners to share what celebrations they know that are linked to welcoming children into the world.
4) The lesson set also covers being unique and special, healthy lifestyle choices with food and other substances, the importance of respecting each other and oneself, and understanding what a personal boundary is, as well as understanding the concept of privacy.
5) Grade 4 learners will practice skills such as identifying safe and unsafe behaviours within the context of personal lifestyle e.g. smoking, crossing the road in a safe way, as well as behaviours that are healthy or unhealthy for the environment.
"The DBE will be surprised if this particular lesson set causes outrage among learners, parents, teachers – or the media – around age inappropriateness," said Mhlanga.
The department urged the media to exercise caution and contact the department for accurate information.
(With Inputs from South African Government Press Release)