Teachers are free to show graphic videos about abortion to 15-year-old pupils, the Education Ministry has said after receiving complaints from a pro-choice parents organisation.
'Parents for Choice' wrote to Education Minister Justyne Caruana after Sidestreet Malta reported that students in a state school in Pembroke were shown a graphic video of 'mangled fetuses' in a religion lesson.
“Whilst we reiterate that every single individual has the right to their own opinion and understand that a religion lesson is unlikely to teach a pro-choice stance, we cannot understand how a video with such unrealistic and not truthful to today’s realities of women and young girls can be shown by any teacher in any school,” the organisation said.
The organisation asked whether teachers have to seek approval from the ministry before showing such videos to students.
"Have parents been advised, and is consent requested prior to showing such graphic material?" they asked.
In Year 11, which involves students aged 15 and 16, there is a chapter in the religious studies syllabus called ‘The Value of Life’, which focuses on the respect towards life.
The Education Ministry told Times of Malta that teachers have the final say on what material is shown to pupils as part of this section of the syllabus.
“In general, the education department discourages the showing of graphic scenes due to sensitivities of some students,” a spokesperson said.
"This being said, the educator is free to choose, in his/her own professional deliberate judgement the resources which he/she believes should utilise during the respective lessons."
It is not the first time the issue has been raised.
Back in 2017, some parents petitioned the ministry over similar graphic videos and the education ministry said at the time that officials would evaluate the materials used.