Sex Education in Other Countries

We hear a lot about sex education in Europe, and we even recently profiled in one of our own Blogposts how much attitudes about sex differ between Europe and the United States. But what about sex education in other countries, especially countries outside of Europe? There are many articles about the lack of sex education in other countries and the high rate of teen pregnancy and HIV, yet, some of these countries are attempting to combat these high rates with innovative programs and strategies, while others continue with archaic views on sexual health and sex education. Here is a look at a few countries’ sex education programs and strategies – some you may find inspirational and others remain rooted in the past. Share your thoughts!

Guam is in the western Pacific Ocean and is an unincorporated territory of the United States. The Chamorro culture, Guam’s indigenous people, has been intertwined with the Catholic Church, which has long preached against the use of contraception. Public Health officials in Guam struggle with teen sex education in a largely Catholic community. The Public Health officials in Guam conduct outreach at local schools in an effort to spread information on teen pregnancy while still being sensitive to religious beliefs. According to some Public Health officials, making sure parents are aware of what their children are being taught is critical. Luckily, Public Health officials try to help teens by giving out free condoms and emergency contraception, but trying to tackle a society where it is thought that, “the use of condoms destroys the whole notion of marriage,” is a very hard task. To read more about Guam’s struggle with teen pregnancy and sex education, click here.

Thailand has been in the news lately for the recently uncovered 2,002 illegally aborted fetuses discovered in a Buddhist temple in Bangkok. Many are now citing the lack of sex education in Thailand as well as the fact that abortion is illegal in the country. Sex education is often viewed as a taboo subject in Thailand and many Thai teachers have said reading materials and teaching resources are limited and outdated. A few teachers in Thailand, though, have been attempting to break this taboo and expose their students to as much comprehensive sex education as possible. Nakorn Saniyothin, a teacher in Thailand, teaches students how to use condoms using a rubber model of a penis, and at times she also teaches her all-male class how to use a female condom and home pregnancy kits. Saniyothin has been teaching for over 23 years and utilizes frank, informal language and slang to get through to the more than 800 students she teaches. Saniyothin says that “we have to make children feel that sex is a common matter, like when we talk about our hunger for food, so that they feel comfortable in seeking counseling on sex-related issues.” To read more about how Saniyothin is bringing change to sex education in Thailand, click here.

In ChinaThe National Population and Family Planning Commission announced yesterday that the city of Beijing is going to have its first ever sex education program for Chinese students next year. This program is a little late, considering that 22.4% of Chinese youth age 15-24 participate in premarital sex, 51.2% of those sexually active youths did not use any form of birth control, more than 20% of the sexually active youths had experienced an unexpected pregnancy and 91% of those youths had opted to end that pregnancy in abortion. A large problem in China is incomplete information about contraceptive use. Only 1.7% of married women use the pill as a birth control method with many believing that in the long-run it will lead to infertility. Most women in China rely heavily on the morning-after pill, with 50% of women reporting that it was their preferred form of birth control. Also, 95% of women use “feminine wash” with more than half believing that this will protect them from sexually transmitted infections. To read more, click here.

In the Philippines, parents are beginning to learn the importance of talking to their children about sex, especially because many Filipino parents want to teach their children about body parts and their basic rights to prevent them from being abused. Yet, the problem lies in the fact that the Filipino words for sex organs are considered swear words or dirty words. Incest and sex abuse cases are rising in the Philippines, with 85% of the 1,145 child abuse cases treated by the Child Protection Unit every year involving sexual abuse. Further, 33% of the 9,787 child abuse cases reported to the Philippine National Police Women’s and Children’s Desk in 2009 were incest cases. To learn more about this, click here.

The Republic of Ghana is a country located in West Africa. In order to combat the spread of HIV, The Hope for Future Generations (HFFG) in collaboration with the Ghana AIDS Commission, the Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) and the Global Fund, have taken HIV/AIDS and Voluntary Counseling and Testing education into local Churches. By targeting and outreaching to churches, the organizations hope that they will be able to expose a larger amount of people to Counseling and Testing, and also give them knowledge in HIV and other STI prevention techniques. The organizations are urging Churches to open their doors so that the HIV messages can be preached in congregations – in a recent Church visit, two persons living with HIV shared their testimonies to the Church members. To learn more about this effort to stop the spread of HIV in Ghana through church outreach, click here.

New Zealand is attempting to help adults foreign to New Zealand receive the sex education that they so desperately need. Beginning in 2011, foreign-born adults attending Auckland’s Concordia Institute will be required to take sex education. School leaders made the decision after finding that many of the students had been taught little or nothing about sex in their homelands. To read more, click here.

Cambodia is a country in Southeast Asia. Dr. Fil B. Tabayoyong, Jr., who, for 30 years, worked for NGOs on projects related to fighting HIV, opened the Condom Bar in Cambodia in 2009. Dr. Tabayoyong saw no real sex education at schools in Cambodia or discussions about sex-related questions, so he opened the Condom Bar as a safe place for youth to ask questions, learn, get a blood test, and pick up free condoms. As many as 300 to 400 people come to the Condom Bar each month, ranging from policemen to even monks. Dr. Tabayoyong says that many of the Condom Bar visitors have a variety of questions, and the majority don’t know how to use a condom and know little about fertility or menstruation. An important aspect of the Condom Bar is that it is confidential and private, allowing Cambodians to feel secure in their questions and comments. To read more about the Condom Bar, click here.

Malaysia is located in Southeast Asia and consists of thirteen states and three federal territories. A state in Northern Malaysia, in a bid to stem rising divorce rates, is providing sex education for the elderly along with newlywed sex courses. The weekend seminar for the elderly aims to “bring back the joy of sex” and to show long-married couples how to get their partner’s libido going again. Courses such as these are rare in Muslim-majority Malaysia, where open discussion on sexual health are considered taboo, yet, officials are trying to keep couples and families together with courses aimed at retaining intimacy. To read more, click here.


One thought on “Sex Education in Other Countries

  1. Good overview, but it would be great to see a more comprehensive look at “other countries” that includes the continents of Africa and South America.

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