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MOE explains why sexuality programme is suspended. Aware responds.

MOE Statement on Sexuality Education Programme (Updated: Aware’s response)

The following is from Aware president, Dana Lam, to members on the MOE's suspension of the CSE programme (see below). It was sent on 7 May 2009:

Dear Members

You may have already read or heard the news about the Education Ministry’s decision to suspend AWARE’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) programme in schools pending its new vetting processes for such programmes. This move also affects similar programmes offered by other organisations.

We sent the media our response yesterday and I thought I should also write to you regarding our position.

We stand by our CSE programme. As I’ve said to the press, we’ve been running the programme for two years without complains. The Ministry’s statement of April 28th confirmed it had not received any complaints from the students, or their parents, who have been through the programme.

What is currently at issue, as revealed in the Ministry’s statement yesterday, lies specifically with some of the suggested responses in the Instructor Guide that it found to be “explicit and inappropriate”. We are prepared to review these and make any necessary changes so long as the principles and objectives of the CSE are not compromised. Yesterday’s statement from the Ministry has also noted that the CSE carries accurate information on STD and HIV and role-play practice for students to say no to sex.

What is important is that the CSE programme, and similar programmes that other organisations may have, continues to be available to students in Singapore . We hope to be able to resume the CSE programme before too long.  

TOP GIRLS

Meanwhile, there is an immediate matter we need your help with – sale of tickets for the Gala evening of TOP GIRLS, a fund-raiser for AWARE scheduled for Saturday, 30 May. It will be a great opportunity to put aside more weighty issues and celebrate life and renewal together.

The Caryl Churchill play is among the best 100 plays of the 20th Century on the British National Theatre’s Millennium list. It won the Obie Award in 1983. The Wessex Theatre production is directed by Daniel Toyne, and has a seven member all woman cast playing 16 roles in all! The play has some coarse language but promises an evening of heart-warming truths, and laughter.

It is being staged from 27th May to 30th May. Tickets for the Gala Night on 30th May are at $80 each. This comes with an invite to a reception brought to us by Harry’s and WineGuru. See you all there!

Please call AWARE Centre 6779 7137 or email [email protected] to buy tickets. And, mark the date on your calendar!

         
Warmest Regards,

Dana Lam
President
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The following was released by the Ministry of Education to the media, May 6.

In recent weeks, the Ministry of Education (MOE) has received feedback on the Sexuality Education Programme conducted by AWARE, as well as other lesson material not involving AWARE. MOE has done a thorough investigation. This statement presents the Ministry’s findings and future steps.

MOE and the 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.

Today, schools are allowed to engage external vendors to supplement MOE’s sexuality education programme. MOE has reviewed the internal processes for selecting and monitoring vendors and found that they can be improved. MOE will put in more stringent processes to ensure that training materials and programmes delivered in schools are in line with the Ministry’s framework on sexuality education. Schools will suspend the engagement of external vendors until the new vetting processes are completed. The Ministry is also reviewing ways to provide parents with more information about sexuality education in the specific schools that their children are in.

MOE has examined AWARE’s “Comprehensive Sexuality Education: Basic Instructor Guide”. The Guide contains some positive aspects, like the accurate information provided on STIs/HIV and role-play practice for students to say no to sex. However, MOE’s assessment is that in some other aspects, the Guide does not conform to MOE’s guidelines. In particular, some suggested responses in the instructor guide are explicit and inappropriate, and convey messages which could promote homosexuality or suggest approval of pre-marital sex.

In view of this, AWARE’s programmes in schools will be suspended and subjected to the new vetting processes.

MOE has also investigated feedback about materials used during General Paper (GP) lessons in junior colleges which carry information on alternative lifestyles. These materials and lessons did not involve AWARE. GP lessons are meant to promote critical thinking and discussion on contemporary issues. MOE investigations showed that the teachers had used these materials to initiate discussion on family structures, and not to promote alternative lifestyles. Nevertheless, MOE will remind school leaders and teachers to exercise greater professional discretion in guiding their students when such topics are discussed. They should also adhere to social norms and values of our mainstream society.

Parents are ultimately responsible for inculcating values in their children. MOE’s sexuality education programme aims to complement parents’ role in helping students make informed, responsible and values-based decisions regarding sexuality.

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