THE Ministry of Education (MOE) is making its materials on sexuality education more accessible by publishing them online.
Education Minister Ng Eng Hen said yesterday that parents, from June or July, can have access to the materials and sit in on their children’s sexuality education classes in school. If they are uncomfortable with what is being taught, they can pull their children out of the classes.
MOE’s sexuality education materials have actually been available since 2000.
Dr Ng told reporters the materials had been sold at bookshops and made into VCDs and DVDs, but they had not been ‘very interesting for the parents’. He felt it was a ‘good opportunity’ to relaunch the materials, make them more available and put them online.
He was speaking at a community event yesterday morning where he reaffirmed his ministry’s commitment to being open about what schools were teaching regarding sexuality and that parents could decide if they wanted their children to be involved in the programme.
He was addressing about 300 residents and grassroots leaders at a dialogue at the Nanyang Community Centre in Jurong West.
During the session, one resident raised the issue of sexuality education taught in schools.
The issue was thrust into the spotlight following some parents’ concerns about sexuality education courses offered in schools by external vendors.
Yesterday, Dr Ng reiterated the importance of parents in their children’s sexuality education, though many were uncomfortable about it.
He told the audience: ‘If parents are willing to teach their children about sexuality education, please go ahead. Then my schools don’t have to do it. But I know parents – I’m a parent – some of you are very shy.’
Dr Ng noted that only one person in the audience had raised a hand when he asked how many of them talked to their children about sex.
He urged parents to find out from their children what they learnt in school, even as he conceded that his own daughter did not usually tell him what she had learnt in school for the day.
Also at the dialogue was Dr Amy Khor, an MP for Hong Kah GRC, of which the Nanyang division is a part. She pointed out that students learnt in school was only as good as what parents reinforced and followed up on at home.
She said students might not think too much about what issues are taught or discussed in school.
Illustrating this, Dr Khor said that when the sexuality education controversy ignited, she was worried and asked her daughter in Secondary 3 what she had learnt in school.
Her daughter’s answer: ‘I forgot.’
Other issues raised by residents included the quality of teachers who joined the service after a career switch, especially given the number of people who had lost their jobs during this downturn, as well as how to engage the youth and the community.
In his response, Dr Ng said that the experience of mid-career teachers enhanced the learning experience for students and that the selection of teachers was still stringent, despite the ministry’s increased efforts to recruit more teachers.