The Jakarta Post
The Constitutional Court (MK) ruled on Wednesday that reproductive health education should not be explicitly included in the national curriculum.
In its verdict, the court rejected a petition filed by the Indonesian Planned Parenthood Association (PKBI), which had requested a review of Article 37, point 1 of Law No. 20/2003 on the national education system, which regulates sports and health (Penjaskes) instruction at schools.
The association had requested that the article specify reproductive health as a compulsory element within Penjaskes.
The court argued that reproductive health education could be integrated in several subjects at schools, such as sports, biology, religion and counseling. Justice Aswanto argued that students could also learn about it from seminars and extracurricular activities.
'There is no need to stipulate it specifically in the article,' Aswanto said during the ruling session.
According to the association, the article is not in line with the Constitution's Article 28C, point 1 on citizens' right to education as well as articles 72 and 73 of Law No. 36/2009 on health, which stipulate the right of information and adequate education and the government's responsibility for providing educational facilities to this end.
The association argues that no curriculum could be considered adequate without reproductive health education as advocated in the Health Law and that facilities should be provided for that.
However, the court found that the education system law's Article 37 did not violate people's rights to education, because teachers and other parties would still be available to teach young people about reproductive health at various occasions.
PKBI chairman Sarsanto Wibisono Sarwono said after the ruling that reproductive health education was often provided through seminars and counseling, but the government needed a legal basis for such education to make it more socially acceptable.
'Otherwise, parents and teachers will always consider it taboo,' Sarsanto said.
He added that his association had proposed to the Education and Culture Ministry to implement reproductive health education in the national curriculum several times, but the effort always failed.
'The government should see the benefits of reproductive health education for students,' he said.
He cited a study on reproductive health education released by the University of Indonesia's Gender and Sexuality Research Center in 2013, which indicated that reproductive health education offered an 88.7 percent chance to prevent teenagers from premarital sex, a 94.5 percent chance to inform students about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases, such as syphilis, gonorrhea or HIV/AIDS, and a 77.6 percent chance to enable students to control their sexual urges.
He went on to say that such education could also reduce child sexual abuse.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI) recently revealed that the rate of violence against children had risen, with 16,000 reports received from across the country in the past four years.
In 2014, the number of reported child abuse cases nationwide increased to 5,066 cases from 4,311 in the previous year. This year, the commission has recorded almost 2,000 cases from January to July.
According to the data, around 50 percent of the cases this year involved sexual violence.
Clara Ajisuksmo, an educational psychologist from the Center for Societal Development Studies at Atma Jaya University in Jakarta, said reproductive health education was needed at schools to heighten awareness.
'It shouldn't be education about sex, but more about educating students that they are endowed with different genders and have different reproductive organs. They should know that the organs are important and must be taken care of and respected, and never abused.
She went on to say that teachers needed to inform their students about the proper treatment of their genitalia, such as warning that having casual sex carried a risk of being infected with a sexually transmitted disease. (foy)
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