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Sanctions loom over sex text

Published:Tuesday | September 25, 2012 | 12:00 AM
Ronald Thwaites, minister of education.

Tyrone Reid, Senior Staff Reporter

Education minister says report is to be submitted shortly

EDUCATION MINISTER Ronald Thwaites has underscored claims that sanctions will be taken against the person or persons who ignored the ministry's approval process and allowed a controversial curriculum guide with questionable references to make it into the classrooms.

Education Minister Ronald Thwaites told The Gleaner that the ministry's investigation into the affair has confirmed that due process was not followed after the teacher text was revised.

"What we can say is that the officers truncated the normal process and said what they had included was OK and passed it on," Thwaites told The Gleaner.

"I am no expert on the Staff Orders, but clearly there was a breach and it has consequences," said Thwaites, as he added that he was not sure if the breach warranted the dismissal of those involved.

Thwaites said a written report, which is to be submitted to him shortly, will identify the culpable officers.

In the meantime, a coalition group and church bodies are calling for a review of all sex-related school texts.

"We ask the minister to order a review of all the texts that are currently in print for all ages of the health and family life education curriculum, and all other curricula, to ensure that material of this nature has not also been included in other texts," the coalition said in a statement.

The statement was endorsed by the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society, Jamaica Association of Evangelicals, Faith Temple Gospel Assembly, The Issachar Foundation, Christian Brethren Assemblies Jamaica, Lawyers Christian Fellowship, Christian Life Fellowship, Bethany Fellowship, Swallowfield Chapel and Mona Heights Chapel.

"We are gravely concerned about the Health and Family Life Education Curriculum for grades one to six and seven to nine, which has been used in schools under the supervision of the Ministry of Education since 2011," read the statement.

The faith-based grouping argued that some of the questions in the book revealed particular value-based assumptions about sexuality that are incompatible with Jamaican laws and the values of the majority of Jamaicans.

"Additionally, the questions are posed as though these activities are the norm for this age group," the statement said.