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Increasing need for qualified PSD teachers

The PSD Teachers' Association would like to clarify some misconceptions that were published regarding Personal and Social Development (PSD) taught in the various secondary schools on the island. The article in question, entitled Mum, Dad, Can We Talk About Sex? (July 17) cited a young woman who complained that when she was in school, topics regarding sexuality education had not been properly dealt with, since the teacher who taught her PSD was a nun.

The Association would like to point out that anyone who is appropriately trained may teach PSD. In fact in state schools there are teachers who teach both Religion and PSD because they were trained to be able to teach both subjects. The Association would therefore like to highlight the importance of having trained PSD teachers, because PSD is a very delicate topic dealing with sensitive topics like healthy living, drug education, sexuality, abortion and relationship education. Unless a person is skilled in how to tackle such topics, one should not be allowed to teach this subject. Untrained PSD teachers can do more harm than good.

It is, therefore, imperative that all PSD teachers in all state, Church and independent schools have the necessary training and skills to tackle such topics. The PSD syllabus deals in detail with various aspects of sexuality education, ranging from physical development, sexual development and personal safety, to consequences of behaviour, contraception, pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections, including HIV and AIDS, and sexual orientation throughout the secondary years students spend in schools. It is, however, unfortunate that PSD does not have the same status in all schools.

Sexuality as well as relationship education are sometimes left out because of the bias against them either by the head of school or by the institution itself.

Every year a group of PSD teachers graduate from University but do not find employment because their places are taken up by teachers who are not trained in the subject, with the consequence of having students who do not have a positive and fruitful experience in PSD.

We take this opportunity to express the need for employing qualified PSD teachers and that the amount of PSD lessons is increased from a single to a double lesson for Forms 3, 4 and 5 students as proposed by the Career Guidance Policy for Schools (2007).

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