THERE have been many iterations of the issue concerning the need for young people in school to be taught the essentials of sex education.
In previous administrations the search for the best means by which such information should be introduced into the school environment was couched under a rubric then called Health and Family Life Education (HFLE).
If there exists any information on which to judge what may have come of such an initiative in schools where it may have been introduced the evidence of its successful application is not compelling.
Supporting the proposition, as it has been re-introduced by the Minister of Sport, the Family Planning Association provided this update. “The Caribbean remains a region with some of the highest rates of teenage pregnancy in the world. These facts demonstrate that open, honest conversations about sexual matters with trusted adults are severely lacking at a time when it is most needed.”
It is no secret that in many instances over recent decades girls in schools across the nation have been allowed the privilege of having their babies and returning to school to complete their formal education.
On the other side of this issue, concerned citizens have argued, unsuccessfully in the face of growing evidence to the contrary, that the best place for such knowledge to be passed on to young people is in the home. In too many instances, however, parents themselves have been proven to be ill-equipped, or often reluctant to address this touchy, thorny subject with their children, whether male or female. In too many cases, the parents became parents themselves because of factors which hindered their own fullest appreciation of the intricacies of sex and sexuality. In too many instances, it remains too taboo a topic to be broached at home, many parents themselves being in need of the modes and the methods by which to introduce the subject and to sustain what is needed for healthy discussion around the issues involved.
These realities severely undercut the insistence by the Trinidad and Tobago Evangelical Alliance of Churches that it is the job of parents to teach their children about sex. Time and time again, it has been pointed out that education about sex and sexuality does not involve coaching as to sex acts themselves, but more about the implications of spontaneous reactions to the impulses of adolescence, about proper understanding of the need for sound judgement and balance in navigating relationships.
And who better to lead in this regard than teachers who are trained, first in the art and science of teaching, and those who would get specialist exposure to the methods of leading in the subject at hand.
That the minister made bold to reintroduce the subject at a public forum, even with the existence of a functioning HFLE programme, as pointed out by her colleague, the Minister of Education, is an indication that there may well be need for a revisit of the subject.