BACKGROUND: Premature sexual activity has become a norm in South African society, often resulting in teenage pregnancy and
sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Occurrence of premature sexual activity is related to insufficient education, gender inequalities, household poverty and place of residence. The Stepping Stones project uses a 10-session programme to educate learners
about relationships, HIV-prevention and teenage pregnancy. The purpose was to measure and describe learners’ sexual knowledge and activities in a rural technical secondary school in North-west Province, South Africa.
METHODS: A cross-sectional survey. Questionnaires were distributed to learners in grade 8 to 12. Descriptive statistics was used
RESULTS: Seventy-nine questionnaires were analysed. Despite a young sample, 26.6% were sexually active and 24.1% engaged in
sexual activity. The mean age for first-time sexual intercourse was 15.2±2.3 years. The use of contraceptives was low (41.2%)
and participants reported difficulty in talking to partners about condom use (54.8%). Almost half (45.5%) of the participants
had never heard of STDs. Participants expressed a need to use social media as a sex education tool (12.3%). The primary source
of information was from school-based programmes (58.0%).
CONCLUSION: Findings point to unsafe sexual practice of learners at a school in rural South Africa, even from an early age. This
concern is accompanied by the occurrence of low levels of sexually-related knowledge. The learners would benefit from continued implementation of the Stepping Stones programme. Implementation could be improved by incorporating social media and
emphasising gender equality and negotiation skills in sexually vulnerable situations.