By Joseph Sipalan and Evangeline Majawat
KUALA LUMPUR: Telling young students about the birds and the bees may be more important than most people realise, according to teachers.
They feel more can be done to educate children about sex to make sure they do not find themselves in unwanted situations such as teenage pregnancy.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Ha- shim Adnan said yesterday that it was better for schools and teachers to approach the issue openly.
"After all, this is part of life. This is not something that we should hide from the students, thinking that they will discover it when they become adults.
"Sometimes things happen, like (teenage) pregnancy.
"Therefore, it is better to talk about it in detail, in a motherly or fatherly way, so that the children are not left with nowhere to turn to."
Hashim said there was no need for a separate subject on sex education as the present syllabus touches briefly on the topic in subjects such as science, physical education and health. All that was needed, he said, was to expand the teaching of sex education in these subjects.
However, some people want the authorities to go a step further and make sex education a mandatory subject.
An English teacher, who requested anonymity, said students needed to learn how to protect themselves from sexually-transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies.
"As a teacher, I want to teach my students about safe sex.
"However, I could be expelled as I would be looked upon as encouraging immoral activities," said the teacher, explaining that the level of sex education in schools was at the discretion of the principal.
Yesterday, the New Sunday Times reported on a National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) survey that showed a high level of ignorance among students and young adults about basic sexual and reproductive health.
Half of the 1,700 respondents, aged between 13 to 24 years old, did not know how babies were born, while two out of five did not know where the foetus developed.
A separate study done by Universiti Malaya in 2006 showed 25 per cent of the 2,005 girls surveyed believed they could get pregnant by sleeping next to a man.
Ten per cent had also said a woman would not get pregnant if she was not turned on during sex, while 47 per cent did not know the answer.
Education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said there were no plans to introduce sex education as a subject.
He said the issue was covered in subjects such as biology, moral and Islamic studies.
"We have a set curriculum now and we can't just change it.
"We will take note and if many quarters bring it up, we will consider it ... perhaps in the future," he said when contacted.
NST Online: 31 Ogos 2009