Majority of students believe sex education inadequate, study says

A majority of Sri Lankan students believe they do not receive sufficient education on reproductive health at the school level, according to a recent study conducted by the Department of Sociology, University of Kelaniya.

Speaking at a meeting of the Sectoral Oversight Committee on Women and Gender held in Parliament today, Kelaniya University Senior Professor K Karunathilake said only 59 per cent of male students and 68 per cent of female students say they receive sufficient reproductive health education.

Taken as a whole, however, the student population vastly believes it is insufficient, Prof Karunathilake said, though he did not quote an exact figure during the presentation.

Outside of the school curriculum, he said, students gain additional information on reproductive health from what he called external sources.

“Many students did not respond when asked how or where they get their information apart from what they learn in school. However, the students who did respond said they get their information from the internet, books and magazines. Male students were more inclined to use the internet for this purpose while a majority of female students said they learn from their parents,” said Prof Karunathilake.

Although the external sources depended on gender, he said, a majority of students agreed that school level sex education was inadequate.

Many school teachers who teach reproductive health had also responded that they faced difficulties when teaching their students, he added.

“We noticed that the teachers who teach sex education to young students are close to retirement. This needs to change. A majority of the teachers haven’t received enough training to teach such subjects. Many parents were also of the opinion that sex education must be provided in school. They responded that they, too, faced certain difficulties when educating their children on matters of sex,” he said.

Prof Karunathilake stressed the need to further strengthen sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education in the Sri Lankan school system, adding that the gaps should be bridged immediately.