No Sex Before Marriage says MOE?

Sometimes I wonder if our country is moving forwards or backwards with some of the surprising actions taken by our authorities.

The latest brow raiser is the Ministry of Education’s revision of the sexuality education programme.  What surprised many people is the statement from MOE  that the team of 10 specially selected teachers who will teach this program MUST practise “mainstream values that are aligned with MOE”. And these values include the family as a basic unit of society and these teachers have to practise abstinence (No Sex) before marriage! http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest%2BNews/Singapore/Story/A1Story20120702-356703.html

When did no sex before marriage become or is a “mainstream value” in modern day Singapore? Was a recent nation-wide survey done to ascertain that more than 50% of people living here are against sex before marriage? Now don’t get me wrong as I am not advocating any sort of free sex or sleeping around.  But the reality in today’s cosmopolitan and developed societies is that many young adults and adults have consenting sex with their partners before marriage (and what more in Singapore where the couples often have to wait a few years before their balloted HDB flat is ready for occupation).

Let me also state upfront that I have nothing against abstinence. Whether one decides to have sex or not before marriage is very much a personal decision, often it’s  a decision guided by family members, peers and sometimes by religion. And we should respect these decisions.

I just think that for the government to push sex education along so called “mainstream values” as defined by them is questionable.  Are these actually mainstream values or the government’s aka PAP’s values which they are trying to pass off as mainstream to make them sound more credible? Hmm, maybe this is a clever tactic to get more people to marry earlier so that they can have sex and hence more legitimate babies? Just kidding! Then again…

In a cosmopolitan society like Singapore where almost 40% of the population are foreigners, what is mainstream these days anyway? As more and more foreigners and locals mingle and interact, values will be shaped and remoulded, just as the future of Singapore’s Identity will be reshaped again and again until our population growth settles down.  In addition, many Singaporeans are becoming more exposed to global living and ideas. I expect that the young will become increasingly cosmopolitan and decisive about the kind of  life they wish to lead and how they want to live it.

All over the world, sexual activity is rising among the youths and young adults.  If MOE were serious about addressing the concerns of sexual diseases and unwanted pregnancies, it should be more forward thinking to create more innovative sex education programmes that can enlighten and equip the young with useful infomation that helps them understand and deal with sexuality matters. Trying to force the practice of abstinence on our fast-maturing youths just isn’t going to cut any ice with many of them.

On the decision of when to start having sex, if even the parents have no issues with their children having responsible sex with their partners, who then is the government to tell them what to do in their private lives? Shouldn’t the role of MOE be just an educational one to teach the young how to handle sex in a mature responsible way – with love, respect and precautions – instead of sex as something they should stay away from until they are married? Give the youths plenty of good information and guidance for them to make responsible decisions but please don’t shape the decision for them according to how the ministry wants it. Seriously, Singaporeans are already often derided for being unstreetwise and poor in critical thinking.  And now this from MOE?

And for MOE to actually require their core team of “sexuality education” teachers to abstain from sex before marriage is downright laughable. How will MOE monitor this? Are they going to verify this (yes, I read that there are actually medical virginity tests that can be done)? Is it even right for them to ask this of the adult teachers? Who do they think they are?

For this group of teachers to agree to such draconian archaic rules, I have to assume they probably already hold such conservative values or perhaps certain religions beliefs. In this case, I wonder what will they teach? That sex is something to be feared or to be revered? How well-balanced will their teaching be and how in sync will it be with the real big world out there? And seriously, if none of these teachers have had sex, how do they answer, ehm, probing questions from the teens?

For MOE to push for abstinence from sex before marriage “as the best option” shows how our government is still fixated with being a paternalistic nanny. And sadly, such actions also shows a lack of human and societal understanding, foresight and common sense.

In my past blog posts, I have raised other questionable regressive actions taken by our authorities. For example, MOE has introduced a new scheme this year to reward good character displayed by students with hard cold cash (what kind of values are they teaching and isn’t it very wrong to encourage good character with cash?).  Another example is the museums managed by the National Heritage Board which display warning signs at the entrances of art galleries to warn visitors if there are naked or graphic art scenes in rooms (hello, it’s art and it’s a museum)!

The funny thing that struck me is that back in the old days when our society was much more conservative and less developed, we didn’t have such warnings in our museums nor did our teachers push the line that abstinence from sex was best during our sex education in school. Fast forward to modern day and the authorities are doing such things now? Isn’t it odd?

And why do I say these are regressive actions? Because as a society develops, we expect the people to grow up along the way, to make their own decisions and take responsibility for their actions.  Instead, such paternalistic actions by the government imposes certain values on our people and takes away some measure of our decision-making and affects our ability to mature naturally. Singapore is a First World country but our people are still being governed in very Third World ways in so many ways (I shall not start on the CPF which is  another bugbear and a topic for another day).

Our country has been making economic progress in leaps and bounds as evinced by the many sparkly new property developments and infrastructure.  We have earned a great international reputation for this amazing First World development of our hardware and we are proud of it.

But most of all,  I believe that many of us look forward to the day when our Government and our people make this same leap into the First World. That will truly make us very proud.



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11 Responses to No Sex Before Marriage says MOE?

  1. The Sanguine says:

    This is definitely a silly policy. However such a policy won’t be able to be applied on real life. Would they really do a virginity test? No way. Would they investigate whether this teacher has been sleeping around? No way.
    This policy would be just like a cold dish, laying around unwanted and no one will care.

  2. Moxie Beauty says:

    I don’t think the news report meant that teachers have to abstain from sex. It just said that they should teach mainstream family values and abstinence as best. Doesn’t say anything about enforcing it on teachers.on the.abstinence.part

    • This Asiaone report may not be clear but the Straits Times report last week was very clear and it did quote the director-general of education Ms Ho on this issue of abstinence. Here’s the extract of the ST report: “Ms Ho said sexuality education teachers will be carefully screened for their values, maturity and their ability to lead discussions of sensitive topics. They will also have to ‘espouse and practise’ mainstream values such as abstaining from premarital sex.”

  3. lkc368 says:

    MOE did the right thing by promoting abstinence before marriage.

    • I think that is very subjective. But I respect that everyone will have different views on this. But I hope they will consider all factors and the implications for our youths who live not in a bubble but in a global world. Being overly protective will not help them with their critical thinking skills. Better to teach them how to be responsible adults who can take care of themselves in life.

      • lkc368 says:

        Thank you for the reply. It seems that you might have equated abstinence = overprotection = youth in a bubble. This is not true. It is simply telling the youth to be cautious about the traffic before they cross the road. Asking a little child not to cross the road without adult company is not overprotection. It is proper protection. We are talking about youth at the age of 12-16 here.

        However, I totally agree that it is important to teach youth how to be responsible to themselves and others. Teaching them about STD infection is part of getting them out of the ignorance bubble. Some STDs are life-long infections and cannot be healed. It is always better to be cautious than careless. And this is also why it is important to teach youth about contraceptives as a mean of protection.

        IMHO, youth before the age 20 are usually not yet mature enough to take up responsibility for an accidental baby. Abstinence prevents this. Contraceptive reduces the chances. As such, from a statistically standpoint, abstinence is a better course of action than using contraception. The lowest rated choice is of course unprotected sex. And this is what we want to prevent, because the risks of STD and pregnancy are too heavy a burden for a young mind just starting his life journey.

        As such, teaching youth about the concept of abstinence is exactly teaching them how to be responsible adults who can take care of themselves in their life.

      • With regards to your private email lecturing me for so-called “censoring” your comment, the lecture is misguided and presumptuous. Firstly, I have been very busy with work and did not have time to craft a reply to your very lengthy comments above. But as you are in a hurry to have it posted, here it is. As for my response, it will be brief and that is I have said what I need to say regarding this issue in my blog and earlier comments. There will always be differnt views on this subject.

        Lastly, please be reminded that this is a personal blog and Not MSM nor a free-for-all public forum. like all blogs, the opinions expressed are the personal views of the bloggers and we reserve the right to moderate all comments on our space.

  4. Danny Soon says:

    I think you are being grossly unfair to the MOE. I suspect this is one topic that MOE would much prefer NOT to deal with. Values are tricky, by and large, they need to be taught at home. However, there are probably plenty of Singaporean parents who will ignore and just fob this topic off to the MOE, and cast brickbats when the school’s teaching of the topic does not gel with THEIR own view. But what is the MOE to do? Turn a blind eye to the fact that Singaporean parents don’t do sex-ed at home? In my opinion, if MOE is getting into sex-ed, then they jolly well stick with the MOST conservative position on the matter, including no-no to premarital sex, and the parents at home can go ahead and liberalise (or liberate) their children if they disagree (assuming they are even aware). But I support MOE wholeheartedly here. Teach the children to be responsible adults? That’s a parental responsibility, not the school’s.

    • Thanks for your comments but I hold a different view. Firstly, this is a personal opinion I have expressed on my blog so I am not here to be fair or unfair to any institution. I am not propagating bad values when all I am saying is that MOE should keep to neutral views in its sex education – just as it had been doing over the decades before changing tack to now push for abstinence as the best solution. It is also not fair to say parents are not taking the responsibility to teach their children about the birds and the bees. Some may not but some do. Anyway, fact is that many young people learn more about sex from their friends and from all kinds of stuff they can read offline and online.

      Abstinence programs have proven to be ineffective according to many studies. Plus one can catch diseases without doing the actual finale act and even after marriage. I know this is a sensitive topic and there will always be very divergent views depending on one’s beliefs and I respect that there will be different views. And it is precisely because the people here hold different beliefs that MOE should maintain an objective stance.

  5. Nature has it’s way – always has. Our bodies are perfectly tuned organisms, they know what to do. Abstaining from anything can have a negative effect if sustained too long. If the body craves for food or water, it’s a sign it needs it. Abstaining can create an imbalanced perception of things – one that’s not so healthy. If the issue is about avoiding unwanted pregancies then it should be dealt with at that level not at the sex level. We have ways to avoid pregnancy.

    Parents need to assume a major role in what is healthy attitudes towards sex for their children. Instead of fearing sex and sexual topics and expecting children to figure it all out for themselves, it’s better to bring it out and show them how intimacy and physical communication works. The only real example they have close to them is their parents. Parents don’t have to demonstrate the whole act of sex, but they can touch in loving ways and explain the rest. The kids will handle it. They’ll probably be grossed out due to social convention but that’s not harmful. It’s never wasted material. They’ll pick up on behavioural tips that give them clues about how they should feel when the time arrives. Sex a spooky place to go… that first time. This is when mistakes can be made. This is when habits start to form. The only guide they have is what they know. If the only info has come from speculation and porn, then that’s the kind of sexual being that child will grow up to be.

    Parent’s must take on their responsibilty and do it wisely. We as a community must support this new notion and believe in it wholeheartedly. As parents, we’ve got to pull our heads out of the fucking sand when it comes to sex. Sex is with us forever. It’s not going away and not doing/talking about it won’t make it dissappear. It’ll make the problem worse.
    (www.mfp.com.au/angelwanderer)

    • Jentrified Citizen says:

      @angelwanderer Thanks for your thoughtful comments. I agree with you that parents should take a bigger role in guding their children on the matter of sex. The school can only do so much and indeed it should not overstep its boundaries in imposing values on personal topics like sex. Sex is part of life and nature and the more we do to understand it and to explain and discuss it openly in a healthy manner, the better it will be for the young.

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