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Educators Gearing Up to Implement Sex Ed in High Schools
• 100% of Students Surveyed Think Sex Ed is Important

By Arianna McKinney with collaboration from Giordano Campini

Sexual education will be implemented in high schools around the country beginning in February, and educators are beginning to receive training in preparation, despite opposition from Catholic and Evangelical churches.

After resolving more than 2000 objections filed by Catholic and Evangelical parents, the Constitutional Court ruled that sexual education will be optional in the country.

In a pilot plan conducted in San Jose with 10,962 students in 11 high schools, only 31 students didn't receive parental permission to receive the class, according to Vice Minister of Education Dyalah Calderon.

The program will be conducted by science professors with the support of orientation advisors. Thirty teachers and advisors from the region of Nicoya are receiving a two-week training in order to impart sexual education during late November and early December, and 30 more will receive training in February, confirmed Oscar Emilio Campos Moreno, in charge of pedagogic advisory for Nicoya's regional direction of the Ministry of Education.

"We must invest in education," he said, noting that at 13 children are already having sex and need help to avoid pregnancies and sicknesses. He affirmed that the sexual education program won't encourage the children to have sex or influence them to become sexually active at an even earlier age. "If dad or mom don't talk to me, someone has to talk to me," he commented.

Elibeth Mena Venegas, regional orientation advisor, already participated in the training. She explained that the new sexual education program, Integral Sexuality and Emotionality (Afectividad y Sexualidad Integral), will replace one of the five lesson modules in science classes for 7th, 8th and 9th graders.

Sexual education is a broad term, Mena explained, and affirmed that students will not see any images of penises or condoms during the class. "That's why parents aren't opposed," she said. Instead, the curriculum will focus on things like feelings, gender roles, masculinity and the age at which they acquire certain responsibilities. Students will get to know their bodies and do exercises to get to know themselves better, and they will also discuss things like the human reproductive system, diseases, pregnancies and rights.

Evelyn Garro, director of Nosara High School, confirmed that Nosara will be incorporating the new sexual education program and said she hasn't yet heard any comments against it.

Maria Luisa Villareal Munoz, director of Samara's elementary school, said she doesn't see this as a big change. She explained that sexual education is already incorporated into curricula beginning in fourth grade, when students learn to call body parts by their real names. Teachers interviewed all agreed that sexual education is important. For example, Manuel Baltodano, English professor at Nosara High School, said that it's important that students receive information about sex in a good way and noted that many don't get the information at home.

"Here in this high school there are students that are close to me and they ask for some advice and we try to give the best advice to them," he said. He also noted that sexually transmitted diseases are affecting children at early ages. He related that last year, the school principal informed teachers that a boy with AIDS would be attending the high school and that teachers needed to know what it would be like, how other students would see him and prepare to work with him.


How Much Do Students Know About Sex?

VON surveyed 16 high school students from Nicoya, Nosara and Samara to find out how much they know about sex. When asked what types of birth control they were familiar with, about 18% of the students were not able to identify any specific methods. A little over half of the students mentioned condoms, 31% were familiar with birth control pills and 38% were familiar with additional methods.

Students were also asked to respond true or false to the following five statements, all of which are false.

When a woman is menstruating, it is imposible for her to get pregnant. 50% said it was false.

When you have sexual relations standing up, it is harder for the woman to get pregnant. 94% knew that this is not correct.

Coitus interruptos (interrupted sex) is an effective way of preventing pregnancy. 69% agreed that it is not.

If the couple has relations without contraceptives but the woman washes her private parts immediately, she avoids contracting illnesses. 81% responded that it is false.

The use of a condom guarantees that the woman will not get pregnant. 69% know this is not true.


What Students Say About Sex Ed
VON asked high school students between the ages of 13 and 22 their thoughts on sexual education. Every student surveyed affirmed that they think sex ed is important.

"Sometimes it's for lack of information that youths get pregnant," recognized 15-year-old Kristel.

Recognizing this risk, 16-year-old Ronald thinks there would be less teen pregnancy as a result of sexual education and explained that this would contribute to a better quality of life since if a boy gets a girl pregnant he often has to drop out of high school in order to work to maintain the baby.

"It's important because there are many young ones that don't know and they get into trouble with their family. Now they'll think about it more," commented 22-year-old Odili in support of sex ed.

What do you think about introducing sexual education in the high schools?

  "They also need it to be imparted at home, because we parents should orient them about sexuality, but also in regards to the teaching and formation in school and high school, it's also important to teach them this theme."
– Marlene Hernandez Hernandez, teacher and mother of five

  "It seems good to me because now the adolescents tend to have sexual relations at a very early age without knowledge of protection, of birth control methods, and also many adolescents at 13, 14, 15, 16 end up pregnant since they aren't provided this knowledge at home. Therefore it will also be provided by educators."
– Jose Julio Seña Campos, teacher

  "I view it as good even though I know that for the most part we parents [have the responsability] toward our children. In family I think it is the most important. Now if in the family there isn't, then that's what the education from the teachers is for."
– Edwin Castillo Zuñiga, father

  "What some of us parents are afraid about is the orientation they want to give to this sexual education that they are going to impart…. Many of us always trust the intervention of the church for structuring brochures for sexual education. This gives us a certain air of peace because it goes with the principles of the citizens. As long as they take the society into account for the sexual education of our children, I think it is okay."
– Miguel Antonio Valverde Carranza, father



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Increase in Crime with Return of Tourists

During the first 15 days of November, the beginning of tourist season, the tourist police reported an increase in the number of crimes against property. At the same time, Jeison Vargas, tourist police chief in Guiones, assured that this is what the tourist police are here for and that they are visiting the area businesses every day.

Costa Rica Scores More or Less On Corruption Index

Costa Rica ranks 48th in Transparency International’s 2012 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) which measures perceived public sector corruption in 176 countries. Costa Rica’s score in the 2012 survey is 54 on a scale of 0 (perceived to be highly corrupt) to 100 (perceived to be very clean).

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Archeologists Didn’t Find Indian Remains in Front of Colonial Church

Nicoyans have expressed divided opinions over the construction of a new plaza in front of the Colonial Church. One of the concerns manifested by some is about the existence of indigenous remains en the area where they are moving earth. 

Water May Cause Illnesses in Nosara Schoolchildren

On November16th, Serapio López School filed a complaint with the Ministry of Health after several children had health problems, apparently caused by water consumption in their facilities.


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