The Department of Basic Education is training teachers to introduce transgender ideology in pre-primary and primary schools.  Do you support (or oppose) their initiative?


On 5 December 2023, FOR SA and senior faith leaders representing a coalition of over 20 million people from the Christian, Muslim and African spirituality faiths, met with the Department of Basic Education (DBE).

The DBE were presented with a 36-page “Comprehensive Position Statement”, expressing unified and deep concern that a “Directorate: Social Cohesion and Equity in Education”  has been set up within the DBE.  This unit is advised and guided by multiple LGBTIQ+ organisations and has developed a teacher-training programme called the ECE Toolkit.

The ECE Toolkit trains teachers to create a culture within pre-primary and primary schools (aged 0 to 9 years) that conflicts with the norms and values regarding sex and gender that many parents hold and have the legal right to pass onto their children.

The ECE Toolkit was funded by a R40 million donation from a Belgian organisation called VVOB, that “firmly believes that quality education can only be achieved if equity, and gender equity in particular, is ensured.

The DBE is of the view the ECE Toolkit is simply an internal teacher-training programme. But this begs the question... who will these teachers be teaching? The obvious answer: Children!

Note: This teacher-training programme has already been rolled out and implemented in at least five provinces.

Evidence of ideological bias and subversion of parental rights

The ECE Toolkit compels teachers to introduce the culture and context of transgender ideology into pre-primary and primary schools. This is contrary to the beliefs and convictions of many parents - and even the teachers themselves. For example:

  • The goal of this training is to help them [little children] break free from harmful gender stereotypes that hold them back in life”. (page 9)
    But who decides what gender stereotypes are harmful? And what gender stereotypes are holding back a 3-year-old that need to be corrected?
  • Children should have access to toilet facilities that correspond with their gender identity… Teachers should work with children to address the discomfort and foster understanding of gender diversity. (page 17)
    But should children at this age not be free to discover themselves and their bodies in a safe and nurturing environment, rather than one that will confuse them with concepts and questions that they are not developmentally ready to process?
  • Teachers are trained to [ask] learners from a young age for their preferred name and pronoun… [to] make room for children who may be exploring their gender identity and demonstrate that gender identity should not be assumed”. (page 39)
    But do children in preschool need to learn about sexual orientation and gender identities from their schoolteachers?
  • Teachers are told to use “they” and “them” because this lets children know that we cannot assume someone’s gender identity just by looking at them. (page 39)
    But should teachers rather help children to make sense of the world using basic logic and science? You can almost always tell a person's gender just by looking at them.
  • Many families and communities hold to prevailing harmful gender roles and boundaries. (page 47)
    But this will directly cause division in the home. Teaching these ideas to a developing 4-year-old will only separate them from their family (or their teacher) and deeply impact their family relationships and educational outcomes.

Legal framework

The DBE’s White Paper on Education policy document expressly recognises parents’ “right to be consulted by the state authorities” and their “inalienable right to choose the form of education which is best for their children, particularly in the early years of schooling”.

The senior religious leaders are unanimous in their position that no child should suffer unfair discrimination, violence or hatred. However, they are adamant that the ideological content in the ECE Toolkit is “largely based on information that is deeply controversial, scientifically unproven and medically contentious”.

They strongly disagree with teaching young children about sex and gender at a life stage when they do not have the developmental capacity to correctly process this information. They contend that this amounts to a form of age-inappropriate sexual awakening and ideological indoctrination that is harmful to children.

Demands of the faith communities

The senior faith leaders presented DBE with the following demands:

  1. An immediate moratorium on the scheduled 2024 rollout of the ECE Toolkit for teacher training and implementation, as well as any other initiatives, forms of education, or indoctrination of a similar nature for which broad-based consultation has not yet taken place.  
  2. All policies and guidelines published by the DBE must undergo public scrutiny before being issued, including input from teachers' unions, school governing bodies, and theological bodies that represent the best interests of children and their constituencies.  
  3. The establishment of a Family Values Unit within the DBE as a catalyst for meaningful dialogue between the DBE and various community groups to ensure that educational content and policies embrace the diversity of South African society without inadvertently favouring one worldview over others.


At a meeting at the DBE on Friday 8 March, the Department firmly rejected the concerns, viewpoints, and recommendations of the faith communities.  They claim that adequate public consultation has already taken place.  They state that they are “committed to supplementing the family values with constitutional literacy.”  

They state that the ECE Toolkit is designed to teach children from a very young age to challenge social and gender norms, which they view as essential in combatting gender-based violence (GBV).  They claim that “children are socialised to accept social norms that fuel GBV”.

The DBE further rejected the proposal by the Coalition that a Family Values Unit be established within the Department.  

The DBE argue that the ECE Toolkit intervention is necessary because “all children find themselves in unequal power relations that hold them back from exploring and developing their potential”.  

Using CAPS for emphasis, the DBE states that “the Department WILL proceed with GRP4ECE, because it is what institutions need to address gender inequality, gender discrimination, and School-related Gender-based Violence” and because it “upholds the position of social protection of children against harmful social norms.”

The Coalition has made every effort to meet with the Minister of Basic Education and/or the Presidency to engage on the evident over-reach of the Department.  However, no response has been received, hence the need to make the public broadly aware of this matter and to provide a platform for concerned citizens to respond directly to the DBE.