Friday, August 18, 2017

MP calls for sex ed to start in primary school

In a demand likely to cause controversy in more traditional quarters, a ruling-party MP is lobbying for sex education to be taught in schools as early as the primary grades.

On Yangon’s outskirts, schoolchildren listen to a lesson from their teacher. Photo: AFPOn Yangon’s outskirts, schoolchildren listen to a lesson from their teacher. Photo: AFP

Yangon MP Daw Phu Phyu Thin (NLD; Mingalar Taung Nyunt) said that education was necessary to help children learn to protect themselves against sexual predators who target children.

“This would involve not just a change in the law, but an education effort in schools and through social media. But sex education should be taught at school. Children at all levels – primary, middle and high school – must learn how to protect themselves,” she told The Myanmar Times on November 29.

Activists say at least two sexual assaults are reported to police in Myanmar every day. Of the 152 rape cases reported to the police between January and September in Yangon, nearly half, 74, involved children.

U Aung Myo Min, director of Equality Myanmar, said thought would have to be given to exactly what to teach, and teachers themselves would need training.

“We can start in pre-school, by educating children about their bodies. Teachers can work with parents in teaching young children how to protect themselves. It might have to be made compulsory for all children at all ages,” he said.

But some teachers said the basics are already covered by the curriculum.

U Myat Thiha Tun, executive director of Basic Education at the Myanmar Teachers Federation, and a grade 2 teacher, said the life skills curriculum is already inclusive of age-appropriate information.

Seminars held by NGOs and CSOs should help provide extra education,” he said.

For many in Myanmar, sexual health education remains a taboo subject, and when broached in the classroom, is often limited to anatomy and mentions of condoms.

“I’m aware of these things, but most of my friends don’t know,” Ma Thein Honey Tun, a grade 10 student from Kayah State, said at the Children’s Forum 2016 on November 15.

“Our school curriculum is already crowded. I think it will be enough if NGOs and CSOs visit schools once a month to talk about sex education,” she added.

Read moreAbandoned babies reveal lack of sex education, support for single mothers