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Sexuality and relationships

With reference to Joseph Zammit’s letter (The Sunday Times, January 1), the Malta PSD Association (MPSDA) would like to point out that the Personal and Social Development (PSD) syllabus is designed according to cognitive, socio-psychological and emotional literacy theories.

A detailed rationale determines the topics to be covered during each particular year, currently from Year 4 to Form 5. Guidelines, sample lessons and resources are also available for these professionals.

Objective 6 of the National Minimum Curriculum (NMC) clearly states that Maltese students should be educated with regard to human sexuality. Education is not solely based on gaining information but also on acquiring skills and forming attitudes. SRE is addressed through various subjects in the curriculum, namely Science or Biology, Religious Education and also in PSD.

Learning in PSD is different from other subjects as it is based on experiential learning leading towards empowerment and responsible citizenship. The safe environment created in PSD sessions, the relationship between students and PSD teachers and the appropriate professional training and attitude are essential when dealing with such a sensitive subject.

A local study by Muscat (2006) concludes that students find SRE useful as they feel empowered in the new knowledge and skills gained, the attitudes being developedand the ability to take informeddecisions.

Qualified PSD teachers are trained on a personal, psychological, philosophical, sociological and pedagogical level to address SRE throughout the two initial teacher training programmes available locally – the B.Ed. (Hons.) and the PGCE course at the University.

PSD teacher-trainees acquire knowledge as a background to their training while they are made aware of their own attitudes regarding various issues through personal and professional development.

With regard to PSD facilitation methodology, PSD teacher-trainees are trained to gain skills in delivering the subject, in particular to gain self-confidence and a non-judgmental attitude when discussing SRE. One should note that lessons use the ABC model to address SRE.

Young people are exposed to a lot of information about relationships from different sources in the community. PSD helps students address, accept, reject and reflect on correct information, clear misconceptions, reflect and form their opinions and attitudes about various issues and develop skills such that theycan make informed decisions in real-life situations. Some schools also organise meetings for parents to prepare them for such topics.

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