Urgent need to discuss Sex & sexuality nationally part 2

In part one on sister blog Gay Jamaica Watch I looked at the fiasco that was the Home and family life education manual and the uproar over one page of a volumous curriculum designed among other things to address sex and sexuality education in schools. Noting that all most of us older persons have been taught reproductive education i.e sperms and eggs make babies, puberty and the pubic hair bit and boys having wet dreams while girls see their periods and even that under the guise of “guidance counseling” had a hard time in getting to the openness where it is now given the sanitization that has occurred over and over again.

Many schools have been run and founded by churches with teachers of a certain ilk so the fear of teaching the “real things” is evident over time, in fact the very paranoia now over this curriculum and the screaming from sections of the public is a reflection of the lack of understanding SEX & SEXUALITY.

also hear my latest audio post/podcast:

Now comes this rubbish in my view of two persons being made scape goats for the Minister of Education’s ineptitude in leading the change that is required in the system to revolutionize the levels of understanding of SEX & SEXUALITY.

Have a read of the article in the Gleaner published on October 28 2012, what is the fear and who has an agenda? obviously the minister is conflicted and is pandering to the religious right also being a man of the cloth himself, what about separation of church and state?

Of course the goodly JFLAG is missing in all this discourse, so much for limpwristedness.

Two In Hot Water Over Sex Text

Thwaites

Education minister claims personal agenda led to controversial sections in school book

Edmund Campbell, Senior Staff Reporter

DISCIPLINARY ACTION is now hanging over the head of a public servant who Education Minister Ronald Thwaites claims had an “agenda” in crafting the controversial sex-education text which was recently withdrawn from high schools.

At least 1,368 copies of the 6,000 health and family life education (HFLE) text, deemed by some to be very offensive, were pulled by the ministry after national uproar over the material that was intended for students between grades seven and nine.

One person who allegedly authored “inappropriate” elements of text has parted company with the education ministry.

But that is not the end of the matter.

“It appears that there were two persons, at least, involved in the process who had a particular agenda in respect of this particular subset of the curriculum and they were able to embed it in the curriculum, and there was not sufficient review to extirpate it before publication,” Thwaites said last week in response to questions posed by Opposition spokesperson on education Marisa Dalrymple Philibert.

“As far as those who, investigation so far determined, played an untoward part in the writing of this (HFLE), one such person is no longer in the service of the ministry and the other person will be subject to the appropriate disciplinary action that the public service provides,” the education minister told fellow legislators.

Intense debate played out on the airwaves and in letters to newspaper editors, in September, about a section of the text which posed questions on sexual behaviour and commentary on heterosexuality and homosexuality.

Angry parents at the time demanded to know who approved the text, despite its withdrawal.

Responding to similar concerns from Dalrymple Philibert, who is the member of parliament for South Trelawny and the Opposition spokesperson on education, Thwaites said an investigation conducted by his ministry revealed that the curriculum was introduced into schools when it was given to teachers who were trained to use it in August 2011.

formal process bypassed

He said copies were distributed to schools before they were withdrawn.

Thwaites made it clear that the formal process of the ministry to approve curriculum was bypassed.

He said then Chief Education Officer Grace McLean did not know of the inappropriate curriculum.

“No Minister of Education of whatever political stripe would have knowingly allowed material as obnoxious as that contained in the HFLE curriculum to have been published,” Thwaites declared.

He also informed the House that the ministry had issued warnings when similar material found its way into the schools in the past.

“It was a clear intention of some who have very laudable views in other respects, but also have very clear predispositions regarding sexual conduct and how children are to be introduced to (it) who got away on this one.

“The important thing now is that we make it quite clear to this Parliament, to those who serve as administrators and public officials and to the nation as a whole, that the primary responsibility for introducing young children to sexual knowledge and responsibility lies with the parents,” the education minister stressed.

Setting the record straight in relation to the ministry’s position on sex and family life education, Thwaites added: “The principles that must be at all times respected is that the Ministry of Education promotes sexually responsible behaviour in the context of faithful union between a man and woman while offering respect and compassion to those who adopt a different lifestyle.”

ENDS

In continuing …………………..

Also see: New sex education manual in two months and Defending Family Life Curriculum

The public uproar over the health and family life education (HFLE) curriculum has done a grave disservice to a programme that addresses many of the social ills plaguing Jamaican youth. As an HIV and health educator, this is quite disconcerting to me.

The HFLE curriculum is not a textbook to be used by students, but a curriculum guide for use by teachers. The activities and resources which have been the media’s focus are not mandatory. Teachers have the power to choose which parts to use as they make their lesson plans.

Denigrating the curriculum as a ‘gay book’ or ‘sex text’ misses the fact that it is a holistic life skills programme, covering self and interpersonal relationships; sexuality and sexual health; appropriate eating and fitness, and managing the environment.

Within each theme, the life skills are broken down into major subcategories of social, cognitive and coping life skills, including decision making; problem solving; effective communication; empathy; coping with stress; coping with emotions; healthy self-management and conflict resolution.

BEHAVIOURAL MODIFICATION

Teaching life skills in this way has been shown to delay the onset of drug use; prevent high-risk sexual behaviour; facilitate anger management and conflict resolution; improve academic performance and promote positive social adjustment. In fact, the curriculum already includes behaviour-modification strategies to deal with anger management, which the minister of education now proposes to introduce in schools.

The specific sections which have been highlighted by the media have also been taken out of context. The personal risk assessment that asks questions about sexual behaviour is for private use by students to help them calculate their personal risk. The information is not returned to the teacher. The purpose of the exercise is to build the students’ critical thinking, decision making and healthy self-management and refusal skills.

The guided imagery activity which asks students to imagine they are the only heterosexuals in a world of homosexuals is not intended to ‘make students homosexual’ but to build empathy and self-awareness skills. It is meant to address intolerance and its consequences, including bullying and abuse of students because of sexual orientation.

UNDERSTANDABLE DISCOMFORT

The public’s discomfort with some of these matters is understandable. However, we cannot ignore the reality our children face and refuse to give them tools to handle their sexuality and sexual health.

The reality is that young people are sexually active, but they do not understand their HIV risk. The mean age of sexual initiation in Jamaica is 14 years old (12 for boys, 15 for girls). Seven per cent of all reported AIDS cases in Jamaica have been adolescents and young adults between 15 and 24.

The Knowledge Attitudes Perception Behaviour (KAPB) study of 2008 indicated there was a 100 per cent increase in the rate of sexually transmitted infections among adolescent girls from 2004. Transactional sex and casual sex are also common among adolescent among males and females.

The same KAPB study indicated that males in the 15-24 age group reported having an average of six sexual partners, and females of the same age group, three sexual partners. Additionally, behavioural studies indicate that one in every three gay men was HIV-positive, and a significant number of this cohort was between the ages of 15 and 24. However, only 38 per cent of young adults between 15 and 24 per cent can correctly identify the modes of preventing HIV transmission.

Since the procurement rules have been breached as it were are we to throw out the baby with the bathwater? the Observer also carried a story on the issue: They had a gay agenda

The Process for Approval of Curricula

a) The policy directorate grants approval for the development/revision of a curriculum in response to societal needs and/or new policy direction.

b) The draft curriculum is developed by the process owner along with selected technical experts internally and externally of the Ministry of Education through consultation with stakeholders (civic groups, teachers, principals, students, parents, and others).

c) The curriculum is piloted for feedback and adjustments

d) The first draft of the curriculum is submitted to the Core Curriculum Unit for review.

e) The Core Curriculum Unit reviews the curriculum and makes recommendation for approval of the final draft document to the Chief Education Officer through the Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services.

f) The Deputy Chief Education Officer, Curriculum and Support Services recommends the approval of the final draft curriculum to the Chief Education Officer.

g) The Chief Education Officer with support from the technical team representing the process owners presents the final draft document to the Executive Management Meeting, chaired by the Permanent Secretary and the Senior Policy Making Group, chaired by the Honourable Minister of Education.

h) The Minister of Education gives final approval of the draft curriculum and the policy unit documents the approval.

i) The process owners with the responsibility for the draft curriculum receives approval from the Chief Education Officer to implement the new curriculum in schools.

j) The process is documented every step of the way, the record is kept on an official file for future reference.

Meanwhile the

Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS) is among a number of faith-based organisations that have expressed grave concern over the controversial Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum, and has called for a full disclosure of the source of its contents.

The group along with the Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Faith Temple Gospel Assembly, the Issachar Foundation, Christian Brethren Assemblies, Jamaica Lawyers Christian Fellowship, Christian Life Fellowship, Bethany Fellowship, Swallowfield Chapel, and Mona Heights Chapel have expressed their displeasure with the curriculum. READ MORE HERE

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