ST: Aware sex guide suspended


May 6, 2009

THE Ministry of Education (MOE) has suspended the sexuality education programme run by the Association of Women for Action and Research (Aware) in some schools, saying it does not conform to the MOE’s guidelines.

In particular, MOE found some suggested responses in the guide ‘too explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex’.

‘In view of the contents of the manual, Aware’s programmes will be suspended in schools and subject to the new vetting processes,’ said the ministry in a letter to The Straits Times Forum section on Wednesday.

The MOE’s decision came barely a week after it said it was investigating the Aware programme, following complaints from parents. But two days before that, MOE had said it saw no reason to intervene because it had not received any complaints.

In the letter to ST Forum, MOE said it has received feedback against the Aware’s Sexuality Education programme as well as other materials from elsewhere. It carried out a thorough investigation on these complaints and also reviewed the internal processes for selecting and monitoring external vendors engaged by schools to supplement the ministry’s sex education programme.

It found that the process could be improved and it would be putting in more stringent steps to ensure that training materials and programmes delivered in school are in line with the ministry’s framework. ‘The ministry is also reviewing ways to provide parents with more information about sexuality education in the specific schools that their children are in,’ said MOE.

On Aware’s instructor guide for the sex education programme, MOE said it contains some positive aspects like the accurate information provided on sexually transmitted infections and HIV, and the role play practice for students to say no to sex. But in some other aspects, ‘the guide does not conform to MOE’s guidelines’, it said.

Feedback on materials used during General Paper (GP) lessons in junior colleges which carry information on alternative lifestyles was also investigated.

MOE’s investigations also found that some teachers had used such materials to initiate discussion on family structures, and not to promote alternative lifestyles.

The Ministry urged school leaders and teachers to exercise greater professional discretion in guiding students when such topics are discussed and that they should also adhere to social norms and values of our mainstream society.

‘MOE and its schools do not promote alternative lifestyles to our students. MOE’s framework for sexuality education reflects the mainstream views and values of Singapore society, where the social norm consists of the married heterosexual family unit,’ it said.


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