The House human rights committee on Monday proposed the establishment of a sex education programme across all levels of state education.
The issue was discussed in the presence of Education Minister Prodromos Prodromou, who argued that the main obstacles at hand are training teachers and obtaining the appropriate teaching materials.
“We proposed this because we do not consider it adequate for sex education to only be taught in the context of biology or home economics, which are optional subjects,” committee chair Irini Charalambides said after the meeting.
She said MPs pointed out serious weaknesses in existing sex education programmes, which are not even offered in technical schools.
“There needs to be an official, structured course from pre-school to graduation, with special educational material directed at every age, so it can be appropriately digested by children,” she added.
Prodromou said his ministry’s health education course covers a series of topics including sex education, pointing out that it has been observed that for various reasons, teachers tend to leave this chapter behind.
He also briefed the committee about the sex education training for teachers offered currently, which includes a handbook put together by the Paedagogical Institute.
Asked about the possibility of establishing a specific sex education course, the minister said that it presupposes the creation of appropriate educational material, as well as the full training of teachers.
“The syllabus is not something that is just written on paper,” he said, explaining that the creation of a whole new course would require a lot of preparation.
“The goal of sex education is to educate children in the current social context so that they can develop awareness on issues of self-esteem, self-awareness, knowledge of both biological and social gender – and the development of skills to help guard children from phenomena of sexual abuse and exploitation.”
The minister agreed that efforts and training should be intensified, adding that his ministry is looking to introduce “skills workshops” in primary education and in gymnasiums, that will provide timely information on issues of adolescence, the reproductive process, contraception and STIs/STDs.