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by MONITOR

ALTHOUGH the rate of teenage pregnancy in Britain is not as bad -- by a factor of ten! -- as the Conservatives have claimed in one of their election leaflets, there is obviously a need for better sex education in schools. That is the objective of the government Bill introduced in the House of Commons on Tuesday night; it requires all schools to provide full information on all aspects of sexual relations, not merely the biological facts which have often been all that was taught in the past. However, the Bill provides that faith schools can also teach their own version of how sexual relations should be conducted. Thus a Catholic school will have to explain what condoms are for and how to use them but it could also make clear that use of them is against the Church's teaching. The Government has been accused of caving-in to religious lobbying, especially by the Roman Catholic Church, on this matter.

However, common sense suggests that it would be unreasonable and unenforceable to require any faith school to go against its fundamental beliefs.

There is another solution, of course -- to abolish all faith schools or to require them to take in a substantial proportion of students from other faiths. The latter would be the better solution and the easiest to implement. It would also have other benefits -- a broadening of minds and discouragement of the view that a particular religion is always in the right.