This news was reported in the Star as well as the New Straits Times (NST) on the 21st December.
By bringing these topics [sexual fantasies, abstaining from pre-marital sex, paedophilia and the sanctity of marriage] into the classroom and lifting the veil on these taboo subjects, the Government hopes Malaysians will become more respectful of gender and sexuality. In the long term, it hopes to drive down the number of sex crimes.Yes, indeed! If I was just more aware of some of the above issues earlier, I would have known what I needed to do when I was molested by a adult senior "respected" chess player in Singapore when I was 13. He has even won the Johore Open before. Instead, I quit competitive chess and thankfully, avoided ever seeing him again. If I had known better, I would have reported him to the police and maybe it'll be his chess career which have ended prematurely and not mine! :-)
"We are faced with various forms of sexual crimes: Internet pornography, incest, pre-marital sex, sexual abuse and harassment, and paedophilia. The guidelines address all these... All must take sex as a serious issue." [Minister of Education, Dato Seri Hishammuddin Hussein]
The guidelines are jointly developed by the Education and Women, Family and Community Development ministries:
- Human reproduction, covering puberty, sexual identity and orientation, self-image and emotions;
- Communication and relationships, covering friendship, love, non-acceptable sexual behaviour, and gender roles;
- Marriage and family, which will explain marriage and parenthood as a life-long commitment;
- Personal development, covering values, rights and responsibilities, and anger management;
- Health and sexual behaviour, covering sexuality throughout life, abstinence, masturbation, fantasies, pregnancy, contraceptives, sexually-transmitted diseases, HIV and AIDS; and,
- Culture and society, covering sexuality and the law, sex and the media, sex and society, and religious views on sex.
However, while the intent of the programme is good, the execution of it will be critical. As rightly pointed out by the Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil:
"We also need to know the right methodology to train the trainers, the people who will be implementing these guidelines."This issue is rightly picked up by NST in a follow up story which highlighted the critical aspect of ensuring not only do we have the right syllabus content, but also the right teachers to impart them to our young.
She said it was not easy to talk straightforwardly about sex as there were many aspects.
"Take for example abstinence. You can’t just tell youths that abstinence is good for them. You have to say it’s ‘cool’. And then you have to explain why. It’s not enough to tell them to say no to pre-marital sex. You have to address the peer pressure factor."
Students graduating from Malaysian primary and secondary schools would definitely have been exposed to male teachers, who probably would have been less than exemplary role models to the students - using foul language, doing bad "signs" as well as telling tasteless dirty jokes. It is hence important to ensure that a subject with the right intent is not instead abused as an opportunity to impart the "wrong" knowledge to the students.
Teaching students about sexuality may be a good idea, but are teachers properly trained to handle such a sensitive subject?Quoting a 28 year old secondary school teacher, Muhammad Munis Musa, 28:
The National Union of the Teaching Profession, teachers and parents interviewed stressed the need for a careful selection of the teachers who will be tasked with this. Teachers, they said, should not colour their teaching with their own prejudices.
"Implementation is not going to be easy. The teachers need to be trained in their method of delivery. It requires sensitivity and tact from them and parents of students."Let us hope then that this new subject and topics will be implemented properly and taught professionally. Read also an editorial on the same topic in the NST.
Side Note: The Star reporter (and obviously the relevant editor) obviously are not diligent in their work for they quoted Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil as the National Unity and Social Development Minister. For a moment while reading the article, I thought I was the one in the wrong.