SINGAPORE - From next year, the Ministry of Education (MOE) will revise its sexuality education programme.
Changes include beefing up curriculum content on the skills for dating and handling relationships with a person of the opposite sex, which will be taught at a younger age.
Instead of the current 13, it will now be introduced at Primary 5, or age 11.
This follows feedback from students.
The Growing Years series, which will be taught from Primary 5 to Junior College 2, will teach students how to navigate social networking sites safely to help them avoid sexual predators.
What constitutes inappropriate touch will also be covered.
Case studies garnered from newspapers or fictional scenarios will be used.
Breaking Down Barriers, the programme jointly run by MOE and Health Promotion Board, has been re-named "eTeens" or Empowered Teens programme.
eTeens aims to provide students with accurate information to help them make good decisions in their life choices.
It increases awareness and knowledge of the following:
- the different sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and HIV/Aids; modes of transmission for STIs and HIV/Aids;
- modes of protection against infection, specifically abstinence and the correct use of condoms;
- skills for decision-making, assertiveness, negotiation to say "no" to peer pressure to have pre-marital sex; and
- consequences and impact of STIs/HIV
There will be a core of at least 10 specially-selected teachers in each school to teach sexuality education and they must be comfortable teaching the subject and have rapport with students.
More importantly, they must practise mainstream values that are aligned with MOE.
These include the family as a basic unit of society and abstinence as the best option to encourage youths to defer sex until marriage.
The revamp was driven by a need to respond to teenagers engaging on social media and the Internet, thus being more exposed, or subjected to non-mainstream views on sex, and are reaching puberty earlier than in the past, MOE's Guidance Branch deputy director Grace Ng said.
Teachers must practise mainstream values aligned with MOE, such as the family as a basic unit of society.
Relationships and dating to be taught earlier, from Primary 5.
Awareness of sexually transmitted infections to be raised.
More focus on social and emotional skills, and how to navigate social networking sites safely.
This article was first published in The New Paper.