Tuesday, March 02, 2010

Teachers say 'no' to sex education

Malaysian teachers are saying 'no' to sex. They are not ready to impart sex education in schools.

They lack professional training in teaching the subject, National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Lok Yim Pheng said today.

She said, while the union fully supported the government's move to provide sex education in schools, “sadly, the teachers lack formal training in the complexity and sensitivity of the subject and are not confident to teach it”.

Lok told Bernama the teachers were afraid they might be sued by the parents “if they were to make mistakes in imparting the knowledge of sex to the pupils.”

Malaysia is a multi-racial, religious and cultural nation with each ethnic group having its own notion on the subject, which made the teaching more challenging, she noted.

The NUTP is the country's biggest teachers union representing 160,000 teachers, which is approximately half the teaching profession.

Lok said the union wanted the education ministry to first discuss with the stakeholders on the pros and cons of the move before making a firm decision.

Currently, the subject was taught in “bits and pieces” from the primary level to secondary level, in the absence of a proper structured course.

Of late, sex education has become a very important issue in the country, with an increasing number of unwed mothers, many of them students.

Meanwhile, a Bernama survey among students, parents and teachers showed that all groups were in favour of sex education but were unsure of the form and content of the course.

Teenage student Jayaraman said he was all for it, but was unsure what and how the teachers were going to teach because "we have more girls than boys in our class and most of our teachers are female.”

Abdul Raof Bidin, 38, who has two school-going children, felt that it was necessary to teach the subject.

"It should be handled with care as it could easily be misconstrued and do more harm than good, if wrongly imparted," he said.

Another parent M Arumugam, 44, believed it was better for medical professionals like doctors and nurses to impart the subject to students.

“Maybe, the education ministry should consult the Health Ministry and come up with some kind of arrangement for teachers to be provided with on-the-job training," he reasoned.

Betty Lee, who has 24 years teaching experience, felt that the subject was best handled by “teachers who themselves are mothers and know how to handle such a complex subject.

“With due respect, not all teachers can teach the subject, and the ministry should be very careful in selecting the right candidate for the job,” added the 50-year-old.

- Bernama

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