Saturday, October 25, 2008

Polycentric approach to sex education

(Published - ST Forum. October 25, 2008)

I refer to the recent discussion on sex education in Singapore.

Sex education for our youth should be more than just a scare fest of disease-ravaged body parts.

As a diverse society, the challenge lies in the consolidation of materials and resources for sex education.

In view of this challenge, a polycentric sex education programme is a viable approach, rather than consolidated and blanket implementation.

Various institutions and organisations should not teach sex education and pass their brand of education as universal, but be upfront about their subjectivity.

This way, should they do so, moralising from such an openly stated position becomes more acceptable.

This approach allows a range of sex education material to be accessible to our media-savvy youth, whether from religious or secular organisations, while ensuring these organisations have their fair representation and stake in society.

Our youth should be exposed to this range of sex education, so they can make an informed decision and follow which material they deem to best suit themselves.

At the same time, the polycentric approach will not privilege any organisation or group over others in sex education.

Schools and parents should thus not rely on only one source of sex educational material to empower their children, but an array. As we are in the information age, we should behave like we are part of it and engage information with an open mind.

Ultimately, there is only a degree to which we can guide and influence the younger generation, and it will be they who have to clean up after us in the future.

Ho Chi Sam

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