What Are They Learning: Lessons About Reproductive Health in Indonesian Primary and Secondary School Textbooks

What Are They Learning: Lessons About Reproductive Health in Indonesian Primary and Secondary School Textbooks

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Iwu Dwisetyani Utomo, Peter McDonald, Terence Hull, Wienta Diarsvitri, Saparinah Sadli, Ida Rosyidah, Tati Hartimah, Nurul Ilmi Idrus, and Jamhari Makruf

First Asian Population Association Conference, 16-20 November 2010
Wednesday, 17 November 2010, 11.00-12.00, Hall 6, Second Floor, Main Building

Abstract: After struggling to incorporate comprehensive reproductive health education in the Indonesian national school curricula, the Indonesian Government has added information on anatomical and normative aspects of reproduction and STDs/HIV/AIDS to the curricula of selected subjects. This paper assesses the content of primary and secondary school text books that reflect the new curriculum. Three hundred books were reviewed using a Reproductive Health Analysis Module developed by the authors to evaluate the depth of information given in Biology, Science, Sport and Health Education, Social Sciences and Islamic Religion text books.

The assessment covered the type of information given, anatomical accuracy, gender depictions, and the social and religious values applied to issues of HIV/AIDS, reproductive health and sexuality. The most comprehensive book that provide detailed and progressive information on HIV/AIDS and reproductive health can be identified based on the scores provided by the authors. The study also considers the grade at which the information is provided and its appropriateness to children’s development stages. In explaining various ways to avoid transmission, many books reflect narrow conservative assumptions about behaviour and fail to mention safe sex strategies or the efficacy of condom use. Interestingly the gender depictions on HIV/AIDS information was minimal
as compared with information on sexual harassment where women and girls were mostly described as causing such problem.

Preliminary results revealed that starting in Year 5, understanding of sexual harassment has been introduced very briefly. In Year 6, in Science, genital hygiene, specifically how
to clean the vagina is explained. Information on how the vagina should not be disturbed by the use of various products is also explained briefly. In Biology, anatomical aspects of
reproduction and human development are outlined but no information is provided about sexuality and reproductive health. Drug use and information on HIV/AIDS are included in some of the text books, while others include information on STDs. Information and data about violence against women, child prostitution and child sexual abuse are introduced in the later years in secondary school. Though found only in one book, gay marriage and the consequences of premarital pregnancy are explained very briefly. More comprehensive information and understanding should be included in the national
curricula on sexuality and reproductive health as well as the emotional and social aspects of sexual relationships that include more gender progressive norms and values.

In general some interesting information on sexuality and reproductive health is scattered across textbooks in various subjects but not as a topic on its own. Moral aspects and religious judgments on sexuality, menstruation, sex within marriage and adultery are given in Islamic Religion text books both in the later years of primary school and throughout secondary school. Anatomical aspects of reproduction are provided in Biology, some social consequences of premarital relationships in Social Sciences text books for secondary. It is notable that the HIV/AIDS and drug use chapter is often
‘appended’ as the last chapter (Chapter 12) in the Sport and Healthy Living text books after discussion of various sports and games activities in the previous chapters.

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