Parents divided over sex education in schools

With the alarming increase in sexually transmitted infections (S.T.Is), opinions among parents are divided over whether sex education should be incorporated into the school curriculum. 

While some parents say that there has never been a better time to integrate sex education in Samoa’s school curriculum, others are not so sure. They pointed to the sensitivities of Samoan customs and culture.

Taupa’ū Rosa Latulipe from Lalovaea said sex education is a great way to prepare the younger generation for adulthood.

 “I agree that it is a very good idea to educate our children concerning these topics so they can be aware of all the risks and consequences of all their choices concerning their sexuality and sexual relations,” she said. 

“In terms of technology advances and fast internet, parents are never sure of what the children are watching or doing, but at least with sex education in schools we know that they are aware of what should be done.”

Tahere Siisiialafia, who is a Lecturer at the National University of Samoa, says it’s important to note that biology class is not considered as sex education.

 “It’s important to note that biology is different from comprehensive sex education, it’s important for the students to understand their bodies, their cycles and their reproductive health to make informed choices,” she said. 

“There are many studies that show low rates of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases in countries that have sex education in their schools, compared to countries that don’t, like us.”

But another parent, Don Mitchell, from Vaiala doubts the qualification of teachers to teach the topic.

“I don’t think the teachers have enough knowledge of sexual education to thoroughly deliver the subject and they need to look into that firsthand,” he said. 

Another parent expressed concerns about the space that the subject maybe communicated in.  

“In overseas countries, they don’t mind teaching all the students together, but for us, we may need to separate the students,” Lagolago Te’o said. 

“There may be a boy and a girl in class who are siblings or related, so they should have two different sessions for the boys and girls to avoid any uncomfortable situations.” 

Comprehensive sex education consist of important topics including changes of the body (puberty), menstruation, HIV & AIDS, STIs, family planning (contraception), sexual reproductive rights and teenage pregnancy. 

Attempts to get a response from the Ministry of Education on whether there are plans to integrate the subject into the curriculum were unsuccessful.

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