Many parents have left sex education to teachers despite education authorities struggling on how to discuss the topic.
Students at Le Quy Don High School in HCM City at an extra-curriculum class on sex
Nguyen Thi Binh, a biology teacher at a secondary school in HCM City said sex education is mainly provided by biology teachers. Many young and unmarried teachers opted to provide cursory teaching and forced students to study themselves as they were embarrassed to talk about sensitive body parts.
“Several teachers become shy when students smile during their sex education classes. Many teachers admitted that they’re not confident enough to discuss such issues with their students,” Binh commented.
Even though grade 5th students are provided with sex education, many of them are still confused about such issues due to poor teaching.
A lot of primary schoolgirls remained unaware of the changes their body was experiencing in early puberty. In several cases, rushed and cursory teaching methods have resulted in misunderstanding.
“I know a case where a grade 5th student asked her teacher how a sperm can meet an ovum. It would be a good idea if the teacher took this chance to give a clear explanation but she opted to avoid answering, instead telling the student to ask her mother,” a psychologist in HCM City said.
An effective teaching method needed
Teachers in HCM City attending training in sex education for students
Nguyen Thi Hong Van, a student at Pham Van Sang High School in HCM City’s Hoc Mon District said that students now have to deal with rapid physical changes in their body, along with potential difficulties. Many students are still confused about gender issues due to cursory lectures.
“We often get information about sex education via leaflets, online sites and information sharing with friends. Sometimes, we really find it difficult to get good sources of information,” Nguyen Van Toan, a secondary student in HCM City’s District 8 admitted.
Doctor Dang Phi Yen from the municipal Population and Family Planning Office said that students often experienced early puberty. This means that some students at the ages of nine or ten even could be pregnant if they have sexual relations.
“It’s necessary to provide early sex education for students to help them protect themselves. In many developed countries, parents often prepare condoms for their adolescent children when they go to a picnic or go camping. However, several school leaders in Vietnam have turned down our proposal to introduce condom use to students. Abortion among schoolgirls in Vietnam is at an alarm rate,” Yen noted.
Nguyen Tran Diem Linh, principal at Le Ngoc Han Primary School in District 1 said it was important to pay attention to teaching methods and teachers’ attitude to gender education.
One expert from HCM City University of Medicine and Pharmacy said that Vietnamese people still found it difficult to talk about the issue and avoided the subject. Several teachers lacked knowledge about the issues while others are busy with their main responsibilities and don’t have time to care about their students’ concerns.
Several experts suggested providing sex education for students as soon as possible. They however warned that half-hearted education would result in unexpected consequences.