Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

Sexuality Education in Greek Schools: Student Experience and Recommendations

Academic journal article Electronic Journal of Human Sexuality

Sexuality Education in Greek Schools: Student Experience and Recommendations

Article excerpt

Introduction

In reviewing the practices regarding sexuality education across 26 European Union member countries, Greece included, Parker, Wellings, and Lazarus (2009) report on the great diversity observed across and within countries, on almost all parameters related to sexuality education, i.e., curriculum content, delivery methods, and provision agencies amongst others. The authors conclude that "... the subject is controversial virtually everywhere and there is thus considerable scope for sharing lessons learned between European countries ..." (p. 241).

When one turns the focus of exploration specifically to the provision of sexuality education in Greece one is confronted with sporadic and limited research data, and at times conflicting information. In one of the earlier research reports on the topic, Agrafiotis and Mandi (1997) indicated that in Greece "sexual education is not the target of any systematic and well planned governmental program" (p. 4). When Kakavoulis (2001) explored the relationship between family and children's sex education he found that sexuality education is not taught in Greek schools as a distinct subject but rather as part of other subjects such as social sciences, biology, and home economics. At about the same time, Agrafiotis, Ioannidi and Mandi (2002) acknowledged that a few Greek schools had introduced some pilot projects providing limited information on sexuality issues, again incorporated into other academic subjects, with an emphasis on anatomy and physiology rather than on the relationship or pleasure aspects of sexuality. Contrary to the above Greek researchers' findings are those in the Safe Project report (2006) of the International Planned Parenthood Federation-European Network (IPPF-EN) which erroneously present sexuality education as "... mandatory in Greek schools since 1995." (p. 48). In the same report sexuality education is said to be taught under the name "diafilikes sheseis" or 'relations among members of different sexes', starting from the age of six, in school-based programs, by school teachers and nurses and the Family Planning Association of Greece (FPAG). Apparently based on information from the same resource (FPAG) sexuality education in Greece erroneously appears once more as "mandatory" in the Parker, et al. (2009, p. 235) study.

The more recent, yet quite limited, research available in Greece on sexuality education for adolescents has focused on issues of parental attitudes and readiness as agents of sexuality education for their children (Kirana, Nakopoulou, Akrita, & Papaharitou, 2007), on the role of health educators in the sexual education of adolescents (Papathanasiou & Lahana, 2007), on adolescents' knowledge of contraceptive methods (Roupa et al., 2007), and on the effectiveness of applied partnerships between school and community agencies in delivering sexuality education (Soultatou & Duncan, 2009).

A more in-depth investigation of current practices regarding school-based sexuality education in Greece clarified that the education policy for the two compulsory education levels, namely for primary education, kindergarten and primary school (nipiagogeio and dimotiko) and for lower secondary education or middle school (gymnasio) is set by the Greek Ministry of Education, Lifelong Learning, and Religions (2010a). For both educational levels, in addition to the analytic educational program, the Ministry of Education enforces a general policy of a non-compulsory curriculum that includes the Health Education Programs--HEPs (Programmata Agogis Ygeias) in which sexuality education is incorporated. A regional Health Education director (for gymnasio) or School Counselor (for dimotiko) acts as liaison officer between schools in a given region and the ministry, approving, organizing, assisting with, and overseeing the delivery of specific HEPs requested by teachers. The HEPs in primary education can be delivered by almost any teacher, can be made part of the day's curriculum, and may cover a wide variety of topics such as healthy eating habits and consumer education. …

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