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HOME  > Past issues  > 2019 July 17 - 23  > Tokyo teachers’ manual for sex education improved beyond Education Ministry’s guidelines
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2019 July 17 - 23 [SOCIAL ISSUES]

Tokyo teachers’ manual for sex education improved beyond Education Ministry’s guidelines

July 17, 2019

The Tokyo Metropolitan government has revised a teachers’ guide for sex education in public schools for the first time since the previous revision 15 years ago. The revised guide, in contrast to the state’s curriculum guidelines for junior high schools, proposes to teach junior high school students topics related to sexual health, such as birth control. The head of a civil group working to improve sex education in schools on July 17 in an Akahata interview welcomed the revisions.

Followings are excerpts of the Akahata interview with the civil group leader, Mizuno Tetsuo:

The latest revision of the Tokyo teachers’ manual mirrors public junior high school teachers’ demand that students learn about sexual health, including safe sex, birth control, and voluntary abortion. What is important is that the revised manual incorporates demands from junior high school students and their guardians as well for a well informed understanding of these matters. In comparison, the Education Ministry’s teaching guidelines state that sexual health-related topics should be dealt with in sex education programs only for senior high school students.

The Tokyo Metropolitan Board of Education in August 2018 published the results of a survey of public junior high school principals in Tokyo regarding the implementation of sex education programs in their schools. In the survey, 46% of the respondents pointed to the need to provide junior high students with sex education covering broader areas than the state’s guidelines.

Furthermore, in another education board survey regarding model lessons on safe sex and reproductive health by obstetrics and gynecology doctors and other experts at junior high schools, more than 90% of students surveyed said that they obtained “effective” and “useful” information from the lessons. The model lessons covered birth control and other subjects which are not included in the education ministry’s guidelines for classes at junior high schools. In the survey on the model lessons, parents surveyed also said that it is important for junior high school students to learn about these topics.

Meanwhile, the revised manual states that when selecting themes other than those mentioned in the education ministry’s guidelines for sex education programs at junior high schools, teachers need to establish a consensus in their school, explain their lesson plan to students’ parents, and provide lessons only to students whose parents consent. This statement indicates the possibility of putting a brake on teachers wishing to convey to their students sexual health knowledge beyond the state-set level. Accordingly, children will lose an opportunity to receive appropriate sex education.

Children are presently exposed to a huge volume of inappropriate sexual content through the Internet and the risk of experiencing unintended pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, or other serious problems has increased. It is thus necessary to implement comprehensive sex education so that young people can obtain the knowledge to enable them to become proactive in decision-making related to their sex relations.

Our group will call on the Tokyo government to continue promoting sex education actively. We will also work harder in collaboration with experts who are involved in sex education programs as visiting lecturers at schools as well as parents and teachers to facilitate the implementation of comprehensive sex education in schools.
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