- Health MEC in Limpopo Phophi Ramathuba has come under fire for comments she made at a school in the province
- Ramathuba was monitoring the first day of the new school year when she told the female learners to focus on "closing their legs"
- The Soul City Institute for Social Justice (SCI) spoke out against the MEC and has demanded that she makes a public apology
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MOKOPANE - Member of the Executive Council (MEC) for Health in Limpopo Phophi Ramathuba is facing heavy criticism for comments she made at the Gwenane Secondary School in Sekgakgapeng, Mokopane, amid the reopening of schools in the province on Wednesday.
While addressing learners, Ramathuba, who was monitoring the first day of the new academic year, advised the girls at the school to focus on their studies by "closing your legs and opening your books."
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Her comments are thought to emanate from the high pregnancy rate among teenagers in the province and other parts of the country. Ramathuba cautioned the learners to refrain from engaging in sex with older men, as this was to blame for the HIV prevalence seen among youngsters.
"Some teenagers have contracted [sexually transmitted infections such as] HIV/Aids because they are seeing older people because they want to benefit financially. But to benefit comes at a cost – that of your health," stressed Ramathuba.
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" Things like Brazilian hair and extensions should not be seen in our schools. So, girl children, I urge that you open your books and close your legs. Don't think about opening your legs. Instead, focus on opening your books," she added.
Among the groups berating the MEC's address is the feminist organisation Soul City Institute for Social Justice (SCI), which is demanding a public apology after a video of Ramathuba went viral on social media.
Message taken out of context
EWN reported that the organisation's CEO Phinah Kodisang blasted Ramathuba for imparting "deeply problematic" advice to the female learners, and added the government, among others, should take accountability for the spike in teenage pregnancies.
"We're not going to take their [Limpopo health department] decision to shift that responsibility and place it on the shoulders of young women lightly. I believe Ramathuba should issue an apology," said Kodisang.
However, Ramathuba told TimesLIVE her statement was misunderstood, and that her message was universal, aimed at targeting both male and female learners. She added that her department welcomed the message delivered at the school.
"Equally, I advised the boy children not to sleep with girls but to focus on their studies. Some health officials appreciated the message and even mentioned that they feared delivering the message themselves. They thanked me for calling a spade a spade," she said.
Online Schooling the Answer to Education Crisis in SA?
Earlier, Briefly News reported that the education crisis stemming from unplaced children in South African schools presents new and unique challenges for those in innovative working spaces to tackle.
As the new academic year takes off in earnest across all nine provinces, parents are scrambling to secure the last available spots for their children. However, these aren't guaranteed due to the influx of new intakes and capacity constraints facing the Department of Basic Education.
As an answer to this problem, a South African online-only school called Teneo – with its offices in Bryanston, Sandton – is making it their business to challenge the status quo.
The online school, like many others around the world, is attempting to alleviate the headache the parents of at least 20 000 to 30 000 first-time South African learners contend with every year.
"Thousands of families battle to secure a place for their children in schools. In the past, the challenge was securing a place at their preferred school, but in time, this evolved into a battle to find a spot at any school," said CEO of Teneo Online School, John Shaw.
Source: Briefly News