‘Diabolical’ PSCD workbook published online by education ministry

No filth or diabolical content... Age-appropriate PSCD workbook helps kids address real-life situations they could very easily come across

A workbook used by state school students for their Personal, Social and Career Development (PSCD) classes, at the centre of a minor controversy after two parents claimed it was ‘diabolical’ and had ‘filthy’ content, has been published online by the Education Ministry.

The book’s contents put paid to claims by the Farrugia couple, who alleged that their 10-year-old was exposed to “gay superheroes” or people “wearing underwear”.

Instead, the age-appropriate book introduces year six students to themes exploring gender, changing sexuality and biological development, as well as awareness of harassment and safety while surfing the net.

Last week the Farrugia couple uploaded two videos to Facebook in which the mother expressed shock at finding out what her daughter was learning at school for PSCD.

A majority of Facebook users who commented on the video felt the woman’s claims were exaggerated, pointing out that they saw no issue with the book’s content. Others raised concerns about whether 10-year-old children were still too young to be learning about intimacy.

After describing the woman’s claims as “false and irresponsible” in a statement last week, the Education Ministry has now uploaded a copy of the workbook online in an attempt to counter online claims.

“This is the workbook that is used by PSCD teachers in Year 6. It is age-appropriate and sensitive to the context in question,” the ministry said in Facebook. “We are publishing the full workbook in this link to make sure everyone is well-informed on the content which is found in it, as well as to avoid any misinformation.”

What’s in book after all?  

The mother’s main point of contention was that the book contained “people introducing themselves as gay” and people “wearing underwear and introducing themselves as gay superheroes”.

Flipping through the book one finds a single exchange mentioning superheroes, however rather than having people introducing themselves as gay superheroes (not that there’s anything wrong with that), the book passage simply points out that some comic book superheroes are gay.

“John has discovered that even in comics they have super heroes who have different sexual orientations, since some superheroes are gay and others are no,” the book reads. Not exactly diabolical.

As for the pictures of people wearing underwear, it’s from a small illustration next to an exercise in which kids are asked to discuss with a group various situations they might find themselves in.

The scenario in question was one asking students to interpret a situation where “Ivan sent a photo of himself in his underwear to Sophia”.

The students are asked to describe how this makes Sophia feel and why, and what she can do about it.

“Remember that your body is yours and you have the right to say no if someone forces you or tells you to do something you do not want to do. Remember also that you have a right to accept hugs and kisses, but not everybody is the same, so before you kiss or hug someone ask them first” the exercise ends.

The rest of book seems harmless enough, covering topics such as the physical changes children experience as they go through puberty as well as the importance of them being aware of what they eat and wear.

It also includes an exercise intended to teach children how to interpret adverts they see around them, showing them that not everybody looks like people in adverts and that the way they portray reality can affect how people feel about themselves as well as the choices they make in their life.

All in all, while people of an older generation might question the book’s contents on the basis of them not having received this type of education at a similar age, most of the lessons the books tries to teach students are based on real-life scenarios we know at least some children encounter.  

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