Schools are becoming less enthusiastic about sex education because of problems in finding someone to teach it, according to a survey released yesterday by the Education Department. Many schools have complained about difficulties finding the time and the right staff to discuss sex, which is still a taboo subject in Chinese society. Some schools use only traditional methods and their coverage is generally not broad, the report says. Louis Ho Chung-nin, the Education Department's principal inspector (biological sciences), said: 'Schools still tend to lay emphasis on the transmission of knowledge relating to sex, rather than the development of skills and the inculcation of attitudes and values through the adoption of appropriate teaching approaches and strategies. 'Effort should continue to be made to promote the implementation of sex education in schools for all pupils.' The latest survey on the implementation of sex education in secondary schools, conducted in 1994, found only 39.7 per cent of the 348 secondary schools had drawn up an overall policy on sex education. In 1990, the corresponding figure was 46 per cent. The latest survey found that about 12 per cent of schools did not teach any of the 15 sex education topics suggested by the department. More than half the schools taught between five and seven of the topics. Popular topics included physical changes at puberty, dating and boy-girl relationships, self-image and self-understanding, and emotional characteristics of adolescents. These were taught at about 70 per cent of schools. But topics such as sexually transmitted diseases, pornography, coping with sexual tensions, birth control and contraception were taught by only about 30 per cent of schools. The survey also found that up to 90 per cent of schools cited lack of specially trained teachers and a shortage of teaching time and professional advice as problems in implementing sex education. More than 57 per cent of schools said their teachers were not willing to teach sex education. Leung Yat-ming, chairman of a working group on sex education, said new guidelines on sex education would be available to schools early next year and he hoped they would help improve the situation. Young people can learn more about sex-related issues by calling a hotline to be launched on Saturday. The 24-hour pre-recorded telephone and facsimile service is sponsored by the AIDS Trust Fund.