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School sex book 'breached protocol'

JTA President Clayton Hall.

Kingston – The Jamaica Teachers’ Association says there was a breach of protocol in the publication of the controversial Health and Family Life Education text, which was introduced into the local school system at the start of the 2012-13 school year.

The Sexuality and Sexual Health: Personal Risk and Assessment Checklist, which is included in the book, created a major uproar among parents and other stakeholders who took strong objection to its content, which included a so-called alternative sexual lifestyle.

In the heat of the controversy, Minister of Education Ronald Thwaites pulled the text, which was designed for grades seven to nine students, from the school system.

In weighing in on the controversy, JTA President Clayton Hall said the text had bypassed the main education stakeholder groups on its way to reaching the classroom.

“There seem to have been some breach in the protocol for the publishing of those documents. The revised publication somehow circumvented the stated protocols for publishing. As such, we had those unfortunate questions being included in the text,” said Hall.

[Hall also said:] “We concur wholeheartedly with the sentiments that this kind of information, how the content was presented, is inappropriate for students at that age. We have actually taught drug abuse and sex education in schools for quite a long time, and from our standpoint, the questions posed are in no way leading to the development of a good habit or knowledge about sexual reproductive health that we want to teach our students”.

The JTA president noted that the way forward rests solely with the Ministry of Education which, he said, must do due diligence to ensure that things to be published, especially those things that are to find their way into schools, go through proper checks and balances.

“From the association standpoint, we will remain vigilant and we will continue to review any new documents placed in our schools and provide the relevant feedback to the agencies and groups responsible for their introduction and correction,” concluded Hall. (The Gleaner)

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