LETTER | The Reproductive Rights Advocacy Alliance Malaysia (RRAAM) welcomes the statement by the Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh that the Education Ministry and her ministry will discuss the possibility of introducing sex education in the schools.
RRAAM would like to highlight that for many adolescents, pregnancy and childbirth are neither planned nor wanted.
Among the main strategies for reduction of adolescent pregnancies is age-appropriate, evidence-based Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided support to United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) to develop the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (2018).
This guideline is immediately relevant for government education ministers and their professional staff, including curriculum developers, school principals, and teachers.
We would like to emphasise also that purely abstinence-based sexuality education has not been proven to be an effective strategy to address adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
We need contemporary strategies for contemporary problems, rather than repeating failed conservative recommendations that are not evidence- and not youth-demand-driven.
In addition, sexually active adolescents face barriers to accessing contraception and healthcare. This includes stigma, restrictive laws and policies regarding the provision of contraceptives.
Adolescent-friendly, non-judgemental, affordable health services should be provided hand-in-hand with comprehensive sexuality education to ensure young people have access to the healthcare that they need.
We note the minister's statement that sex education would not be introduced right away because it will take time to work out the details. However, we call on the ministries to release a commitment to a timeline for implementation as soon as possible.
We demand that the phased implementation of the comprehensive sexuality education programme be rolled out within this academic year of 2019.
The previous government had many consultations and prepared multiple modules and syllabus with no effective rollout plan, thus making sexuality education essentially negligible in schools.
The years of hiding behind taboo are over. The time to act is now. Political will needs to step up for every child in Malaysia.
RRAAM, along with the youth of this country demand for effective and timely implementation of comprehensive sexuality education in this New Malaysia now.
The writer is RRAAM president.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.