The Malta Independent 26 June 2019, Wednesday

PSCD sessions done 'through brainstorming, discussion and group work'

Jeremy Micallef Sunday, 19 May 2019, 10:30 Last update: about 2 months ago

The Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD) classes that have been under so much discussion during the last two weeks revolve around brainstorming exercises, discussions, group work and other activities that elicit learning and give a voice to the issues and concerns of the students, said Education Officer Stephen Camilleri.

The mother and father of a Year 6 girl recently uploaded a video on Facebook saying that their daughter was being subjected to ‘diabolical’ teachings about sexual situations for which she is too young.

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In a statement to The Malta Independent on Sunday, Camilleri explained that the main aim of the PSCD syllabus is to help students learn about themselves as developing individuals and members of their communities, as well as equipping and empowering them with the necessary information and skills to take control of their lives and experience it positively.  

“The topics presented in class help students to build on their own experiences and those of others in order to learn skills and develop the right attitudes to keep themselves safe and healthy.”

He said that, in PSCD, various topics related to self and health education are tackled during the various years, such as – to mention only a few: Myself, Growing Up, Stereotypes, Physical Development, Caring and Non-Caring Relationships, Responsible Decisions, Personal Hygiene, Child Development, Health and Sexuality and Social and Sexual Health Issues.

“The topics are also discussed within a pedagogical model which allows attitudes and skills to be acquired through experiential learning and individual and group processing.”

In fact, PSCD sessions are held in groups of not more than 17 students in order to ensure that the students learn experientially rather than through the transmission of knowledge and facts.

Part of the syllabus includes Sexuality and Relationship Education (SRE), which is the process of acquiring information and forming attitudes and beliefs about sex, sexual identity, relationships and intimacy.

“SRE gives students the opportunity to develop skills such as assertiveness, effective communication, responsible decision-making and self-awareness. It also gives students the opportunity to explore and develop values and opinions so that they can develop their own moral compass.”

SRE also helps students to acquire the necessary information and skills to protect themselves against abuse, exploitation, unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. 

Camilleri goes on to explain that the National Minimum Curriculum (1999) clearly states that students should acquire not only knowledge and information about sexuality but also the necessary skills to make responsible decisions which are positive, decisions which respect their own individuality and that of others.

“PSCD teachers constantly receive training on different issues related to the subject and SRE so that they are in a better position to use their acquired knowledge to motivate students to reflect, analyse, air their views, debate and challenge another individual’s point of view.

“Within this safe environment, the PSCD teacher becomes a facilitator of learning where mutual exchange and learning takes place.”

 

Ministry and Union

In a statement, the Education Ministry said that the syllabus for Year 6 discusses the development of sexuality within the context of a relationship built on love. The way the subject is taught is “decent and suitable” for children at that age.

Any reference to gay people is made appropriately, as expected in a tolerant society that supports diversity.

Parents are informed about the subject in a special meeting held specifically for them, and the syllabus is available online, while the workbook is also public and made available to the students, contrary to what the parents – who are apparently ardent followers of River of Love pastor Gordon-John Manche – suggested in their post.

The Ministry expressed its disappointment regarding the irresponsible way in which parents make use of the social media to give false information.

The Ministry also published the sex education book that is being taught to Year 6 students.

The Union of Professional Educators also said that they had reported the mother to the police after she had confronted the PSCD teacher at the school itself. UPE executive head Graham Sansone said that they have “a zero tolerance for parents who go to school themselves and act the cowboy.

“We are supposed to be a civilised society. A parent who has a complaint about their children’s syllabus should make use of the proper channels by making an appointment with the Head of School or writing to the Education Department.”

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