MP calls for sex ed to start in pri­mary school

The Myanmar Times - - News - HTIKE NANDAR WIN EI SHWE PHYU news­room@mm­times.com

IN a de­mand likely to cause con­tro­versy in more tra­di­tional quar­ters, a rul­ing-party MP is lob­by­ing for sex ed­u­ca­tion to be taught in schools as early as the pri­mary grades.

Yan­gon MP Daw Phu Phyu Thin (NLD; Min­galar Taung Nyunt) said that ed­u­ca­tion was nec­es­sary to help chil­dren learn to pro­tect them­selves against sex­ual preda­tors who tar­get chil­dren.

“This would in­volve not just a change in the law, but an ed­u­ca­tion ef­fort in schools and through so­cial me­dia. But sex ed­u­ca­tion should be taught at school. Chil­dren at all levels – pri­mary, mid­dle and high school – must learn how to pro­tect them­selves,” she told The Myan­mar Times on Novem­ber 29.

Ac­tivists say at least two sex­ual as­saults are re­ported to po­lice in Myan­mar ev­ery day. Of the 152 rape cases re­ported to the po­lice be­tween Jan­uary and Septem­ber in Yan­gon, nearly half, 74, in­volved chil­dren.

U Aung Myo Min, di­rec­tor of Equality Myan­mar, said thought would have to be given to ex­actly what to teach, and teach­ers them­selves would need train­ing.

“We can start in pre-school, by ed­u­cat­ing chil­dren about their bod­ies. Teach­ers can work with par­ents in teach­ing young chil­dren how to pro­tect them­selves. It might have to be made com­pul­sory for all chil­dren at all ages,” he said.

But some teach­ers said the ba­sics are al­ready covered by the cur­ricu­lum.

U Myat Thiha Tun, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Ba­sic Ed­u­ca­tion at the Myan­mar Teach­ers Fed­er­a­tion, and a grade 2 teacher, said the life skills cur­ricu­lum is al­ready in­clu­sive of age-ap­pro­pri­ate in­for­ma­tion.

“Sem­i­nars held by NGOs and CSOs should help pro­vide ex­tra ed­u­ca­tion,” he said.

For many in Myan­mar, sex­ual health ed­u­ca­tion re­mains a taboo sub­ject, and when broached in the class­room, is of­ten lim­ited to anatomy and men­tions of con­doms.

“I’m aware of th­ese things, but most of my friends don’t know,” Ma Thein Honey Tun, a grade 10 stu­dent from Kayah State, said at the Chil­dren’s Fo­rum 2016 on Novem­ber 15.

“Our school cur­ricu­lum is al­ready crowded. I think it will be enough if NGOs and CSOs visit schools once a month to talk about sex ed­u­ca­tion,” she added.

Photo: AFP

On Yan­gon’s out­skirts, school­child­ren lis­ten to a les­son from their teacher.

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