Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Wednesday, 14 November 2012
Joint Oireachtas Committee on Education and Social Protection
Social, Personal and Health Education Curriculum: Discussion with Comhairle na nÓg
I commend the representatives on their presentation, which was well delivered. These are two important issues. With regard to religion and sexual health education, very often when something is put in place, everybody says the job is done and everything is okay. It is good for us to receive the information Comhairle na nÓg has provided in this regard, for example, that the delivery of RSE is not good on the ground. This is partially related to our development as a country and the Catholic influence and so on. The practice of religion in the country influences all parts of our life, including education but, at the same time, young people in countries with a much more liberal view about sexual education wait longer to have sexual relationships and make much more mature and informed decisions. If anything, our conservative background is working against us in practice and, for example, as Ms Clancy mentioned, Ireland has a higher rate of teenage pregnancy.
Questions have been asked about what can be done to address mental health issues in the curriculum. Initiatives have been implemented in other countries in this regard. There is an issue about trying to give people positive mental health skills and whether people should have time to reflect, whether mindfulness should be taught and how we deal with stress, anxiety and so on.
Senator Power suggested that the committee should send our complete schedule. We will have that on our agenda for our next meeting. Hopefully, that will be agreed and we will follow that up to maintain a connection with Comhairle na nÓg in order that it can be made more concrete.
Would anyone like to comment on the issues raised?
If any items remain outstanding I will bring them to the witnesses' attention.