SINGAPORE - The Ministry of Education (MOE) is reviewing its system of engaging external vendors for sexuality education programmes in schools, Senior Minister of State for Education Indranee Rajah told Parliament yesterday.
This is part of the ministry's regular review process, she said.
She revealed that seven schools engaged four approved external providers last year at a cost of $20,000 to conduct sexuality education programmes for students.
Since 2009, schools spent about $460,000 on such supplementary programmes, or an average of $8 per student, she added.
She was replying to Nominated MP Tan Tai Yong, who asked if MOE would keep engaging external providers to conduct sexuality education programmes in schools.
The issue had surfaced in the House last November after a controversy in October over a programme offered by an external vendor.
Hwa Chong Institution student Agatha Tan, 17, had criticised the programme by Focus on the Family Singapore, a pro-family Christian charity, for being sexist and reinforcing gender stereotypes.
Ms Indranee said yesterday that sexuality education is mainly taught by MOE-trained teachers.
External vendors are used, she said, when they have expertise in certain areas such as pornography, cyber safety and sexually transmitted infections. She added that MOE has a "stringent" vetting process to select external vendors for sexuality education.
She said that teachers and students give feedback, and MOE "audits schools to ensure that the programmes are delivered according to what has been approved".
Mr Zaqy Mohamad (Chua Chu Kang GRC) also asked if current cyber wellness programmes are effective in raising awareness of sexual grooming among students.
Last week, a male engineer pleaded guilty to sexually grooming 31 boys aged between 11 and 15 over three years, after befriending them on Facebook.
Ms Indranee said there was room to strengthen education in this area to protect children.
"Safety in the sexual context is something that MOE takes very seriously," she added.
This article was first published on Jan 20, 2015.
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