The South African department of health has said that children as young as 10 could be taught about safe sex in schools as the country battles to contain pre-teen pregnancy and HIV infection. Health and education officials are scratching their heads over when kids are old enough to hear about the birds and the bees in an education plan due next year.
"Is 10 too early or too late? We want to start as early as possible," said education ministry spokeswoman Hope Mokgatlhe.
A health ministry report on HIV infection among pregnant women published last week showed an increase in infections among young girls aged 10-14 in 2010. Almost 10 percent of the 121 future young mothers carried the virus.
"A number of young kids are falling pregnant, kids as young as 11 to 12, contracting sexually-transmitted diseases," health ministry spokesman Fidel Hadebe told AFP.
In September, a primary school in Port Elizabeth, in the Eastern Cape Province sparked outrage amongst parents after giving contraception by injection to school girls.
A plan to distribute condoms at public schools was also scrapped two years ago amidst accusations it would only encourage teenagers to have sex younger.