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Authorities are considering teaching sex education to teenagers when they undergo national service after leaving school, Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, director general of the National Service Department, said this week.

Ng Yen Yen, the minister who announced the proposal, said sex education, including lectures about preventing AIDS, could shield youngsters from unhealthy activities.

Tens of thousands of boys and girls ages 17 and 18 are selected at random each year to participate in the government’s national service programs.

Sex is often a sensitive subject in Malaysia, where unmarried couples can be fined for kissing and hugging in public.

The Cabinet approved guidelines for sex education two years ago, but activists say the courses have not been implemented. Officials had suggested teaching students how to protect themselves from sexual predators, reckless behavior and sexually transmitted diseases.

From staff reports and wire dispatches