29 January 2006
SINGAPORE - A workshop at a Singapore junior college sparked uproar among students for rejecting contraception, abortion and embryonic stem-cell research, The Sunday Times reported.
Anderson Junior College engaged the church-based Family Life Society to hold the four-hour workshop for all second-year students.
Complaints have been posted on Internet diaries, or blogs, and an online forum started by a disgruntled student attracted at least 120 comments. School officials also received negative feedback.
Those conducting the workshop “did not clearly state the source of their opinions and instead attempted to spread their beliefs to everyone attending by asking everyone, regardless of their individual’s beliefs or religion, to write down things like, ’I must condemn masturbation and in-vitro fertilization,’” Tay Wei Kiat said in his posting.
“It seemed like I was being brainwashed,” said another student going by his online moniker Cygig.
The workbook the students were given appeared to promote the organization’s beliefs rather than present fact, he wrote.
Regarding contraception, the programme workshop was cited as saying, “The sterilized sexual act is not much different in its meaning from an act of mutual masturbation whereby the couple seeks to use each other to derive sexual pleasure.”
Under Ministry of Education guidelines, schools are expected to provide eight hours of sexuality education to upper secondary students and four hours to tertiary students. Many schools hire external vendors to conduct the sessions.
Woo Soo Min, vice-principal of Anderson Junior College, told the newspaper that the Family Life Society was chosen because it focused on abstinence and approached the topic “using one’s values and beliefs as the basis,” but conceded that the tone might not have been suitable.
The society defended its programme, maintaining that it never imposed any ideas on the students and kept its content entirely secular.
While some content may have been “moralistic,” the presentation was never “religious,” Andrew Kong, senior executive of the group, was quoted as saying.