I am from the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Comhairle na nÓg. I will give the results of our survey on the implementation of SPHE and RSE in secondary schools in Ireland. This survey was written by a professional researcher and all the results were put together by professional statisticians.
We surveyed a total of 354 young people; 134 took the SPHE survey and 220 took the RSE survey. The SPHE survey covered 68 schools in 12 different counties and the RSE survey covered 94 schools in 13 counties. In the SPHE survey, 53% were male and 47% female and in the RSE survey, 42% were male and 58% female. The age bracket for the SPHE survey was between 12 and 16 years with 38% being 15; 25% being 14; 22% being 13; 10% being 16; and 5% being 12 years. The age bracket in the RSE survey was 15 to 18 years with 39% being 16; 29% being 17; 23% being 15; and 9% being 18 years. In the SPHE survey we learned that 88% of the students had SPHE classes in 2009; 84% said they had classes once a week; 95% said that SPHE classes lasted on average one class in duration; and 97% said that SPHE is timetabled as a class.
We asked them whether their school had an SPHE policy and 38% said "Yes", 8% said "No" and 54% did not know. Only 14% of those surveyed were involved in development of the SPHE policy in their school. We asked questions about the content of the SPHE syllabus and asked whether SPHE helped them develop personal and social skills. A total of 41% said "Yes"; 33% said "No" and 26% said they were unsure. We asked whether SPHE helped develop self-respect and self-confidence. A total of 48% said "Yes"; 32% said "No" and 20% said they were unsure. We asked whether SPHE helped them make good decisions and 60% said "Yes"; 26% said "No" and 14% were unsure. We asked whether SPHE gave them the chance to think and talk about interesting subjects and 56% said "Yes"; 29% said "No" and 15% were unsure.
In the RSE survey, only 26% of the people surveyed had an RSE class in 2009 and 74% had not had an RSE class. A total of 63% of people had never had an RSE class; 19% said their RSE classes were once a week; 8% said every few months; 7% said more than once a week; 2% said once every two months; and 1% said once a month.
Only 15% of the young people surveyed said that RSE was timetabled as a class and in 85% of cases, RSE was not timetabled. Sometimes RSE is timetabled in religion class, 50%; SPHE, 38%; science and biology, 9%; home economics, 1.5%; and life skills, 1.5%.
We were asked some questions about some guest speakers they had invited. Some 46% of the young people had guest speakers in talking about RSE. The main issues they discussed were contraception, sexually transmissible infections, crisis pregnancy and abstinence. The guest speakers came from medical, crisis pregnancy agencies and religious groups. Some 24% said that the guest speakers were very useful; 44% said useful; 19% said not very useful; and 13% said not at all useful. Some of the quotes were as follows: "God's input into sex"; "It was quite bad"; "They ridiculed homosexuality"; "A religious cult"; "They said not to have sex before marriage"; "Catholic youth workers who provided us with untrue facts and gave misguided information"; "It was solely the teaching of the Catholic Church"; and "Totally biased".
Some 61% said that learning RSE in school is very important; 30% said it was important; 5% said not very important; and 4% said not at all important. On the statement that "RSE classes cover all the important relationships and sexuality topics I need to know at this stage in my life", 25% strongly agreed; 37% agreed; 25% disagreed and 13% strongly disagreed.
We will be publishing and launching our survey results in coming months. It is the first time the views of young people have been collected on the subject. The results speak for themselves and we hope members of the committee will work with us to improve the lives of people nationwide.