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Guangzhou Children to Be Taught Sex Early

To protect young people and society at large from HIV/AIDS and teenage pregnancy, sex education classes in this southern city will be given to children as early as kindergarten.

New courses about sex and health will soon be offered in all primary and middle schools and also some kindergartens, after Guangzhou Education Bureau replied to the proposals submitted by some members of the city's People's Congress.

Early this year, members of the city's People's Congress called on the local government and educational departments to teach school students more about sex and health at an earlier age.

"The number of students who have pre-marital sexual activities and school girls who have induced abortion are increasing now," said Liao Chan, a deputy of the city's People's Congress.

Liao, who is also a doctor in the city, added that girls who are under 20 and have induced abortion operation makes up 15 per cent of the total of women who have abortions.

"Sex and health education in students' early years is necessary since we even found that a 13-year old girl underwent an abortion in the past," said Liao.

In addition, a number of schools found it difficult to arrange classes on sex and health during students study time since they have more than 10 other courses per semester, according to the survey.

Some students interviewed said they learned about sex through unhealthy sources, such as pornographic websites, videos and books, according to the survey.

"Sex knowledge from those sources is not as systemic and complete as that of textbooks, so correct guidance for people during puberty is crucial for them to better understand sex and prevent them from getting abortions or having early sexual activities," said Guo Ningbo, an official from the local education bureau.

The bureau in early April chose 41 schools, including 15 middle schools, 13 primary schools and 13 kindergartens, as experimental schools for teaching students about sex and health.

The move is aimed at putting sex education on the official teaching agenda, in a bid to dampen curiosity and inform young students in the booming city.

The local education bureau, together with the health department, has issued a new textbook about sex and health recently.

Different from previous courses, which focused mainly on human body anatomy, the new edition of the sex and health education textbooks includes sensitive issues, such as masturbation, giving a more detailed introduction to sex for teen students in the city.

In addition, the bureau plans to improve teaching methods regarding sex and health to ensure the quality of education.

In addition to sex education, the bureau plans to hire special psychological teachers for schools starting this year, in a bid to help students' psychological development.

The bureau will require teachers to obtain a degree in medical health and psychology to ensure students are taught correct information.

(China Daily July 19, 2004)

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