A parliamentary panel has rubbished sex education in schools, slammed the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Adult Education Programme and denied that children between 14 and 18 years are at high risk of contracting HIV, despite evidence to the contrary
The Committee on Petitions, comprising Rajya Sabha members from several political parties and headed by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Venkaiah Naidu, has said that “there should be no sex education in schools” since “our country’s social and cultural ethos are such that sex education has absolutely no place in it”.
The committee was deliberating an August 2007 petition that called for a debate on the implementation of sex education in schools, which has become a contentious issue in the country.
In its report, the committee says that sex education “promotes promiscuity”, there is “no justification” or need to teach HIV/AIDS to schoolchildren in the 14-18 age-group, and that sex education “incites stimulation of instincts which is detrimental to society”. Basic “instincts like food, fear, greed, coitus, etc, need not be taught, rather control of these should be the subject of education,” the report continues.
The committee ruled that children must be given the message that sex before marriage is “immoral, unethical and unhealthy” and that sex outside marriage is “against the social ethos” of the country. It advocated “instinct control” and “dignity of restraint” and called for a new curriculum to include material on the life and teachings of saints, spiritual leaders, freedom fighters and national heroes to “re-inculcate in children our national ideals and values which would also neutralise the impact of cultural invasion from various sources”.
The panel, however, agreed that students should be made aware that child marriage is illegal and is injurious to the health of the girl-child. It also believed that children should be told that ‘consensual sex’ below the age of 16 amounts to rape.
The committee criticised the Ministry of Human Resource Development’s Adult Education Programme (AEP), launched in 2005, as a “cleverly used euphemism whose real objective was to impart sex education in schools and promote promiscuity”.
It objected to the AEP’s focus on prevention of HIV through use of condoms, saying it found no credible survey or study to establish that fact that schoolchildren in the 14-18 age-group were at high risk and needed education on HIV prevention. It recommended that HIV/STD-related education should not be permitted before the 10+2 stage in the biology syllabus and was critical of the involvement of the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in framing the curriculum. In fact, it said that its members were embarrassed by the “indecent” powerpoint presentations on the AEP that the Delhi government brought out, and it was apprehensive of the negative effect that such education would have on children.
The committee recommended instead that chapters on naturopathy, ayurveda, unani and yoga and moral values should be made part of the syllabus. This would aid “total development of the child”. Chapters like ‘Physical and Mental Development in Adolescents’ and ‘HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases’, and related topics, should be removed from the curriculum and incorporated in biology books only at the 10+2 stage.
NACO secretary K Sujatha Rao, when asked to comment on the committee’s stand, said that there was “a lot of evidence that supports imparting life skills education. In fact, the 15-20 age-group contributes about 30-35% of the HIV epidemic. A study has been done by the Population Council which suggests that adolescents are at risk”.
The panel did not take into account the fact that children are subjected to sexual abuse and are not equipped to handle such situations out of ignorance. Many educators believe that the reality of modern life is that children are being exposed to sex via the media and consequently need a better understanding of the subject, which is what a well-thought-out sex education programme would provide.
The Supreme Court has held that sex education in schools can’t be brought under the ambit of constitutional rights by making it part of the right to education.
Source:http://www.dnaindia.com/, posted April 19, 2009
http://www.expressindia.com/, posted April 18, 2009