Minister Athena Michaelidou and Anastasia Papadopoulou, President of the "Voice" Council, joined forces today at the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth to deliver a joint press conference on the topic of sexual education for students. The purpose of the conference was to emphasize the significance of implementing comprehensive sexual education in schools.
During the conference, several key points were highlighted concerning the teaching of sexual education:
Firstly, sexual education has been an integral part of the curriculum for preschool, primary, and secondary education since the academic year 2010-2011. It is compulsory and systematically taught at these education levels. In response to legislation passed by the Parliament, the Ministry of Education, Sports, and Youth has allocated specific time slots in the timetable for each class to accommodate this subject. Furthermore, efforts are underway to introduce sexual education in lyceums and technical education.
The role of schools in promoting health was also emphasized. Schools are crucial in safeguarding the well-being of students, and health education is considered a fundamental right for every student throughout their educational journey. By incorporating health education into the school curriculum, various social issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse, delinquency, sexual abuse, road safety, racism, sexually transmitted diseases, unwanted pregnancies, and social inequality can be addressed. Moreover, health education encourages participatory and democratic processes, fosters active and experiential learning, and facilitates collaboration among schools, families, and communities. This approach contributes to creating a positive educational environment, achieving educational and social objectives, and promoting students' overall well-being.
The conference also highlighted the importance of adopting a holistic approach to health education. The Health Education Curriculum emphasizes the interconnectedness of thematic modules and encompasses four main pillars: self-development and empowerment, adopting a safe and healthy lifestyle, fostering social well-being, and cultivating active citizenship. These thematic units complement and reinforce each other, addressing health-related risk factors holistically. Factors such as place of residence, legal framework, social class, gender, education, government services, and living conditions are taken into consideration. By establishing links between Health Education topics and students' immediate and broader environments, the curriculum aims to develop life skills that improve living conditions and promote overall well-being.
Comprehensive sexual education is integrated into the Health Education curriculum. Since the academic year 2010-2011, sexual education topics have been taught to students primarily through the thematic subsection called "Family Planning, Sexual and Reproductive Health" under the unit "Creating and Improving Social Self." This subsection covers various aspects such as individual development stages, interpersonal relationships, conflict resolution, emotional management, violence prevention, gender stereotypes, responsible use of digital technologies, and more. The approach to sexual education intertwines with other Health Education topics, ensuring that sexual health issues are addressed within the broader context of students' lives and society as a whole.
The Ministry of Education holds the responsibility for developing and implementing the curriculum related to sexual education. Continuous training and capacity-building programs are provided to teachers at all levels through institutions like the Pedagogical Institute and the Inspectorate. To support teacher training, training materials have been developed and are accessible through the CFCA website, with primary education materials available at https://agogyd.schools.ac.cy/index.php/el/ and secondary education materials at https://oikiam.schools.ac.cy/index.php/el/yliko/didaktiko-yliko.
By introducing holistic sexual education within the curriculum, the aim is to equip students with comprehensive knowledge and skills related to sexual and reproductive health, healthy relationships, rights and responsibilities, and overall well-being. Schools, by fostering an inclusive and informed environment, can play a pivotal role in nurturing responsible and empowered individuals.
[Information sourced from announcement]