December 23, 2020
Educating Students on Sexuality and Mutual Respect Is the Joint Responsibility of Schools and Parents
We refer to the letters by Daryl Yang (Root of sex offences lie in sexism, misogyny, Dec 15) and Paul Leow (Systems, procedures must be in place to ensure students' well-being, Dec 11).
Children in schools are being educated from young on how to treat everyone with respect. We do this through Character and Citizenship Education (CCE). Sexuality Education, which is part of CCE, equips our students with the necessary social and emotional skills to develop positive self-identity, maintain healthy relationships, and make informed and responsible decisions on sexuality matters.
For instance, in primary schools, students are taught about personal safety and protection from sexual exploitation and abuse. In secondary schools and the junior colleges, there is a greater focus on how to build healthy relationships. This includes helping students better understand what it means to respect boundaries for self and others. Students are taught about the social-emotional, legal and disciplinary consequences in schools if they overstep these boundaries so that they do not become perpetrators themselves. They are also taught how to seek help from trusted adults such as their parents, teachers and school counsellors when they are in need of support, or when think that their peers are being exposed to harm or harmful influences.
MOE reviews our Sexuality Education curriculum regularly to ensure its relevance and responsiveness to the changing needs of students as society evolves as well. As part of the recently updated CCE 2021 curriculum, we are putting greater emphasis on moral values, cyber wellness and the importance of respecting boundaries for self and others – both online and offline.
Similarly, at the Institutes of Higher Learning, education continues to be the key conduit through which we build an inclusive and respectful campus culture. At platforms like student orientation, online modules, face-to-face workshops, and regular outreach, students are educated on the importance of respect and appropriate behaviour. Students are also encouraged and guided on how to tap on the available avenues to seek professional help, such as from counsellors and victim care units.
Besides schools, parents also play a key role in nurturing our young so that they are empowered with the relevant knowledge and skills to protect themselves, and are instilled with the right values to make informed decisions on sexuality matters.
Mrs Tan Chen Kee
Divisional Director, Student Development Curriculum Division, MOE