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Thursday, November 11, 2010
Trial run of sex education module yields positive results
More holistic approach to sexual health lessons for Forms 1, 2 and 4 ready to be implemented, but not compulsory.
The module for a more holistic approach to sex education is ready to be implemented in Forms one, two and four, the National Population and Family Development Board revealed.
Its director-general, Datuk Aminah Abdul Rahman, told the New Straits Times the module, co-developed with several non-governmental organisations, would also be geared towards helping curb sexual abuse among children and promoting responsibility in taking care of reproductive health.
Aminah, one of the key figures involved in developing the module, said it was meant to address a range of issues including baby dumping, teenage pregnancies and lack of parenting skills.
While the module has yet to receive any formal acknowledgement from the government, part of it is currently being taught in five schools in Kelantan, Pahang, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Penang.
“This is just a trial run. Holistic sex education is important as it addresses critical informational needs not merely of the young, but of parents and the community in general.
“Comprehensive sex education must, therefore, empower individuals to ask the right questions and get the right answers without fear, shame or stigma,” said Aminah, adding that the board had also consulted the Education Ministry when it was developing the module less than a year ago.
The board, she said, had proposed that the module be taught to students in Forms one, two and four as Forms three and five were examination years.
Aminah also said that they were ready to train facilitators either from the board or school teachers for this subject.
However, Aminah said implementation of the module would depend on which ministry
or government agency would like to take part.
She was commenting on the announcement by Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong that sex education would begin in secondary schools next year.
Wee had told Parliament it would not be known as “sex education” but as “social
and reproductive health education”.
Students would be taught health, psychology, sexual relations, and family and
The director of the National Population and Family Development Board’s human
reproductive division, Dr Norliza Ahmad, said the module would be a co-curricular subject and not part of the main syllabus.
Parents can opt to have their children attend class or not.
She said the trial run conducted last year yielded positive results and was well-received by both teachers and students.
“We saw a significant improvement in terms of knowledge and a more positive
attitude when we compared pre-trial and post-trial,” she said, adding that the module used in the trial run focused on cultural values, religious aspects and how to handle peer pressure, as well as assessing risk.
Dr Norliza said the board had proposed that the module be introduced simultaneously in Forms One, Two and Four and not in stages, but the decision lay with the Education Ministry.
Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul
Jalil said ignorance and prejudice could only be overcome through education,
adding that people must recognise that sex education was a shared community responsibility.
“We must ensure there exists a common holistic and comprehensive standard for
education on sex and reproductive health.
“This way, all Malaysians, regardless of age, gender or background, will possess
the same knowledge, skill sets and the confidence to approach the issues at hand.”
She said her ministry, through the board, had been advocating the need for comprehensive social and reproductive health education since 1995.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (Page) chairman Datin Noor Azimah
Abdul Rahim welcomed the announcement, saying it was long overdue.
Congratulating NGOs for pushing for such a module, she said the country faced
problems such as baby dumping because sex education was not introduced earlier.
“If it had been done a long time ago, we wouldn’t need a baby hatch,” she said, referring to the facility launched earlier this year for couples who could not take care of their newborns.
National Parent-Teacher Association Collaborative Council president Associate
Professor Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan said students needed to be empowered to take
care of their mental, physical, psychological and emotional makeup.
This way, they could make wise decisions, ensuring that the future generation
was healthy in “mind, body and soul”.
“Please don’t politicise this issue as we are talking about the future of our society. I recommend that this issue be viewed with an open mind from both religious and cultural perspectives.”
Father-of-two Muhammad Shah Abdullah, 55, said he hoped students were taught
in stages so they could understand the lessons more comprehensively, adding that
sex education should cover every aspect.
“In my time, sex education was taught only in Form Four. Even then it revolved
around the reproductive organs, but it wasn’t enough. I had to learn more about it outside of school.”