Maximising Social Media Platforms to Enhance Sexuality Education in Rural Schools
Keywords:Social media, Sexuality education, Sexual and reproductive health, Students, Teachers, South Africa
Sexuality education is central to the South African government's strategy to promote adolescents' sexual and reproductive health, reduce student pregnancy, and prevent sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. The school-based sexuality education program aims to reduce young people’s vulnerability, enhance their decision-making skills, and improve their self-efficacy. The rising incidence of sexually transmitted infections and student pregnancy in some rural schools in King Cetshwayo district may indicate that their sexuality education programs are ineffective as a result of multiple contextual factors. In light of this, the author conducted a study that explored students' lived experiences with the sexuality education programs available in their schools. This phenomenological study was conducted in 2020. Nine schools were chosen, and 84 purposively sampled secondary school students participated in focus group interviews. The collected data were analysed using an interpretative phenomenological analysis framework. Study findings revealed that social media platforms could be utilised to improve the effectiveness of school-based sexuality education in the research setting. The study identified untapped opportunities to spread sexuality education messages to all stakeholders, including students, teachers, parents, and various community actors. Furthermore, the findings showed that using social media platforms could increase the spread and accessibility of sexuality education messages outside of the four walls of classrooms. In addition, it emerged that social media could be used to create platforms for confidential, private, and non-judgemental engagements on sensitive aspects of sexuality education. Based on the findings of the study, the author recommends that policymakers initiate and implement policies that will integrate the use of multiple social media platforms to advance the messages of sexuality education to all stakeholders. In addition, such platforms could be used for capacity building and support for both teachers and students, as well as a medium for multi-stakeholder engagement.
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