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Government orders review of sex-ed curriculum in schools

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 12:00 AMJovan Johnson
Ruel Reid
Ronald Thwaites

For the second time in four years, sex-education textbooks in Jamaica's public schools will be scrutinised for alleged inappropriate content.

Last week, Education Minister Ruel Reid, citing "public concerns", ordered an investigation "to determine whether the publications are approved by the ministry and if their content is appropriate".

The comprehensive Sexuality Education and Health and Family Life Education curriculum is at the centre of the probe.

Reid's decision comes on the heels of the Wayne West-led Christian lobby Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society raising concerns about sex-education material in schools.

West argued that he was not against children being informed about issues of sex and health, however, that content should be "wholesome and age appropriate".

The curriculum was withdrawn in 2012 because some parents and teachers objected to certain of the contents for grades seven to nine.




The then education minister, Ronald Thwaites, was also uncomfortable with the contents.

Reacting to last week's decision, Thwaites, now the Opposition spokesman on education, said, "It's a relatively short time since the previous one (review) was done, and it was done after consultation with all different people."

Thwaites admitted that during the last review, some interest groups were not pleased that some of their views were not adapted.

"(Some wanted) only the strictly biblically based construct of family and sexuality to be exposed to children and that any other influence should be condemned and suppressed. That was not my position. My position was, while I hold to the traditional Christian views on sexuality and marriage, young people have to know and understand differing lifestyle, though they must never be groomed," Thwaites told The Gleaner.