Monday, November 9, 2009

Nationally Offensive

Sex education dominated headlines again over the weekend as discussion began about a new Health and Physical Development National Curriculum, which is the third phase in a curriculum overhaul, set to begin in 2011 with new Maths, English, History and Science programs.

For the moment, the Government has promised “a strong consultation process” when it comes to implementing a national program for sex education, but has refused to hint at the program content, including how it will treat topics such as homosexuality, contraception and abortion.

Federal Education Minister, Julia Gillard, has promised the concerned private sector that they will be consulted before the Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) confirms any course content for national implementation.

The ACARA, a paid board of professors and educators, will determine age-appropriateness of certain topics and decide if parents will have the right to withdraw their children from the course if they disapprove of the content. The right of independent schools to completely withdraw from teaching the course does not appear to have been considered.

The NSW Teachers Federation maintains that sex education should reflect the needs of students, but how these needs are determined is uncertain.

How the ACARA will determine what is appropriate sex education content for my friend’s 10 year old is well beyond me.

© Eva Whiteley 2009

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