India: Teachers promote sex education, despite fundamentalist ban

The Telegraph via SACW
Despite a ban imposed by the BJP Madhya Pradesh against teaching sex education in schools since March 2006, a survey shows 73 per cent of teachers in that state do not think sex lessons in school promote "indecency in the name of education".
Shivraj Singh Chauhan might disagree but 73 per cent teachers in Madhya Pradesh do not think sex lessons in school promote "indecency in the name of education".
A survey by the state chapter of the Voluntary Health Association of India has found that most schoolteachers want sex education re-introduced in the curriculum.

About 245 teachers across 120 government and private schools in Bhopal, Indore and Maheshwar districts have said sex education was essential for healthy growth and prevention of AIDS and unwanted pregnancy.

The survey questions the ban on sex studies in Madhya Pradesh schools since March 2006. Chauhan had then told Union HRD minister Arjun Singh he was withdrawing the lessons as they were spreading "indecency in the name of education".

The row began when a book, Flip Chart - printed by the National AIDS Control Organisation and Unicef - was distributed to some teachers involved with the Kishore Avastha Siksha, an awareness programme for adolescents.

The BJP regime had found illustrations of physical changes in male and female bodies from childhood to puberty to adulthood "offensive".

The Madhya Pradesh government was today unfazed by the call to revive the lessons.

"I have to study the findings minutely. Moreover, I must ascertain the motive for conducting such a survey," education minister Laxman Singh Gaud said.

The Madhya Pradesh health association director, Mukesh Sinha, said the motive was "advocacy" of people-centric policies for dynamic health planning and programmes. "When we conducted the survey, we realised the earlier sex education programme's methodology was wrong. The whole focus was on promotion of condoms. What we suggest is a school health programme with focus on hygiene, nutrition and sex education. Abruptly calling it off is not sensible," Sinha said.

The association had conducted another survey last year in which over 60 per cent teenaged girls had said they were facing a "communication gap" with their parents because of shyness and fear. About 80 per cent were unaware of physical changes in their bodies during adolescence.

As many as 47 per cent girls said they were sexually harassed outside their homes. Of them, 53 per cent said they had never complained to their guardians about it.

By: Rasheed Kidwai

19 January, 2008