Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Sex Education on the Cards

Yes, the big taboo subject is finally going to be "taught" in Malaysian schools. About time too. Kids are learning more and faster from the Internet than ever before and it's better to provide them with the right "out-of-bounds" (OB) markers early in dealing with these issues.

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.

"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]
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! :-)

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.
The above will not be immediately be taught as a single subject, but be incorporated into some of the existing subjects taught to the students such as Moral studies, Islamic studies, Health studies, Science and Biology.

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."

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."
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.

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?

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.
Quoting a 28 year old secondary school teacher, Muhammad Munis Musa, 28:
"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.


Anonymous said...

Wow.. sorry for your past experiences. Im suprised you even blogged about it here.

I salute your courage.

Anonymous said...

In my opinion, sex education have to go along with real life examples and case studies in order to be effective. In each case the CORRECT MESSAGE must be delievered.

The education shall cover all aspect of sex crimes. Why does it happen and how to tackle and avoid the POTENTIAL TROUBLES they could be getting in.

However, as a concerned parent, I really do not have faith in our education system and the teachers. Yeah, can select the right teacher mah... but hai! don't have faithlah, how professional is the selection is also a BIG question! Just look at our police morale, weren't they selected properly?

These people could take advantage of the system and commit sex crimes in class rooms.

Anonymous said...

I can see foresee the Health and sexual behaviour module

abstinence = good
masturbation = sin
fantasies = sin
pregnancy = sin if outside of marraige
contraceptives = sin
std HIV and AIDS = god's punishment

Anonymous said...

It is understandable that it's going to be tough to bring those topics to class, but it's really important for us to learn it in our school days, rather than using trial-and-error method! LOL.

cass! said...

i would love to teach the kids about sex.

how do i do that? email me?

Ching said...

Fighting sex crimes and HIV/AIDS is best done within the family institution.

Strengthening the family institution and core values, sex crimes or HIV will drop sharply.

Because most parents neglect this responsibility, it's now left for the school to handle. More and more parents runs after material wealth and neglects the duty to teach their children to be good people.

School is not conducive for teaching sex education or moral values. It's very 'sterile' and secular. It's hard to instil what is morallly right or wrong using the education system.

If poorly implemented, sex education might even backfire. The students armed with knowledge of contraceptives might be more daring to commit sex crimes. This will lead to even more troubles and even collapse of the society.

In addition to teaching sex education in school, why not teach parents too? Teach them how to teach their children at home.

Anonymous said...

sex education should be implemented in school.

teaching parents on how to teach their children at home is not appropriate. this is because there is age barrier between parents and teens. i am sure that most of the parents do not talk to their teens about sex education even if they have time. we should bear in mind that most of the teens' life are at school.

furthermore, we should know that we cannot avoid the "incidence" a even if we told our teens to do not have sex before marriage, they will still do it because of their curiosity and influences of Media. so, the best way is to equip them with knowledge such as the important of preventive measure like condom and so on. by this, at least we can reduce the number of patients at hospitals due to sexual transmitted diseases.

Anonymous said...

teacher have many more job to do.
the subjects taught in school can help the student. however, critical thinking process should be integrated with the subject taught. teacher should teach their students to think and how to apply the knowledge. think out of the box, not spoon feed the students only.