Sexuality is a topic that out of bounds in Malaysia, however there are still increasing reports of the misbehavior of sexual activities especially among Malaysian teenagers. Most of the reported cases are rape cases, abandoning babies, unwanted pregnancies, unsafe abortion, and sexually transmitted infections (STI) including HIV/ AIDS. According to Li Ping Wong in 2012, because of the influence of mass media, socioeconomic development and also modernization, the sexual attitudes have been changing among young people in developing countries. This indicates in unintended pregnancy among unmarried young women in Malaysia and can be proved with the increasing number of abandoned baby cases over the years. According to police reports between 2005 and 2010, 472 babies were abandoned across the country, about 258 babies were dead.
Preparing children for the transition to adulthood has always been a great challenge. Sometimes, young people receive a range of unclear messages about sexuality and gender. Some teenagers learn about the facts of life mostly from friends, books, magazines, TV, movie, pop songs, and of course, through the Internet. Very few have the opportunity of being taught by their parents on this important aspect of life. Perhaps it is because of age differences, they do not feel comfortable in discussing sex-related issues with their parents. Many parents find it awkward to talk about the subject and glad to delegate the responsibility to the schools.
Thus in this progressive education movement, Malaysian government suggested on introduction to sexual education in schools as one of the effort taken in reducing the sexual-related social problems among Malaysian young adults nowadays. For some people, introducing sexual related topics to primary school students is not to be a good idea, but it is something that cannot be totally left out. I believe that the best age to introduce sexual education it depends on level of understanding of a person. Schools and educators play an important role in teaching our teenagers about sexuality since they spent their time more in school. In Malaysia, since 1989, sex education has been part of the secondary school curriculum, and then was introduced in primary schools in 1994 (Priya Kulasagaran, 2015). Although it is not a stand-alone subject, sex education was covered in the subjects such as Biology, Moral Education and Islamic Studies. Currently, sex education in the curriculum is known as Pendidikan Kesihatan Reproduktif dan Sosial (PEERS, or Social and Reproductive Health Education). In 2012, the Policy and Action Plan for National Reproductive Health Education and Social Education has renewed it and was known as PEKERTI Policy. Reproductive health and social education is fundamental to the development of strong and healthy human development. The objectives are to raise awareness about the importance of reproductive health and social education, develop skills in social reproductive health education among community, increase research and development for improving reproductive health and social education, and also improve the effectiveness of health and social education.
The outline of PEKERTI consists of four main strategies to manage and implement sex education and they are: Advocacy, Human Resource Development, Research and Development, Monitoring and Assessment. As for information, the implementation was divided into three main sections, which are kafe@TEEN adolescent center where it has started in 2005, PEKERTI@National Service where the target groups are National Service Trainees, and PEKERTI@School where the target group is the students. There are many benefits that Malaysians can get from the PEKERTI policy. The policy includes about the diversity of religion, culture and values of life in Malaysia. This policy allows the teenagers to learn about the choices about our health and behavior, understand our rights, and develop the skill in making those choices. Thus, it will help to educate individuals and to make responsible decisions. They will also know on how and why it functions the way it does and protect their body.
However, while the intention of the program is good, the implementation of it will be critical. I believe that effective delivering sexual education is very important. The mode of delivery as well as the teachers who teach the subject plays a significant role in determining the success of it. We need to know the right methodology to train the trainers, the people who will be implementing these guidelines. So far, students graduating from Malaysian primary and secondary schools would definitely have been exposed to male teachers, who probably would have been less than exemplary role models to the students, like using foul language, and telling dirty jokes. It is hence important to ensure that a subject with the right intent is delivered properly and not as an opportunity to tell the “wrong” knowledge to the students. The teachers need to be very well-trained in their method of delivery to ensure that the objectives can be achieved. A recent data show that generally, sexual education is accepted regardless the mean of delivery, but it is preferred to be combined with religious or moral education subjects (Mutalip, 2012). This definitely will be a good approach, because by learning religion and sexual education at the same time, teenagers are exposed to have better understanding on sexual concerning their religious faith.
To wrap it up, in application of sexual education in schools should include all aspects of sexuality, like including information about human reproductive anatomy and physiology, decision making, relationships, the sexually transmitted infections (STI) and with how to avoid the sexual harassment and last but not least the birth control methods. Social and reproductive health education is actually a lifelong process towards healthy behavior in life. Education and knowledge can helps the formation of a responsible Malaysian individual and create a Malaysian society that is free from the growing social problems and that will lead to good human development. Because our nation’s future is in our children’s hand.
1. Mutalip, S. S. (2012, july). Sexual Education In Malaysia: Accepted Or Rejected? Iranian J Publ Health, 41(7).
2. Zulkifli SN, Low WY (2000). Sexual practices in Malaysia: determinants of sexual intercourse among unmarried youths. J Adolesc Health, 27: 276-80.