Wednesday, 19 April 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
118. Mrs. B. Moynihan-Cronin asked the Minister for Education and Science the number of schools implementing the relationship and sexuality education programme in schools at the latest date for which figures are available; if he has satisfied himself at the rate of implementation of the programme; when it is expected that all schools will be implementing the programme; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11740/00]
As I indicated recently in reply to a similar question, April 1999 is the latest date for which figures are available regarding levels implementation of relationship and sexuality education, RSE, in primary and post-primary schools. Based on a 66% response rate from primary schools and 64% from post-primary schools the data, collected in late 1998, indicated that 24% of respondent primary schools were already implementing an RSE programme and 57% indicated an intention to teach RSE in some or all classes during the 1998-99 school year. Some 67% of respondent post-primary schools are already implementing RSE in some or all classes and 78% indicated their intention to teach RSE in some or all classes during the school year. A follow-up survey is currently under way, and I expect the results to be available shortly.
The RSE training support service, which is funded by the in-career development unit of my Department, acts as a support to schools in this work. It continues to organise information seminars for parents and for boards of management of schools, policy development seminars for school-based committees, whole school staff seminars and the production of resource materials for teachers. In this respect, senior cycle resource materials issued to schools in September 1999 and the final set of materials for fifth and sixth classes at primary level have also been issued. I expect that all of these activities are having a positive influence on the levels of implementation of RSE in schools.
As regards the timeframe within which all schools will be implementing an RSE programme, it is not possible to be definitive in this matter. I recognise that schools are at different stages of implementation and that for many the policy formulation process, which involves school management, parents and teachers working collaboratively, is a relatively new experience. Feedback from schools has indicated that this process has been extremely valuable for all concerned and I am confident that the range of supports  being made available to schools will speed up the process of implementation.
I believe we need to continue our efforts to ensure that all children have access at the earliest possible stage to an RSE programme which enables them learn about their own development and about their friendships and relationships with others.
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