India Insight

Do we need sex-education in schools?

April 30, 2009

A parliamentary committee, with a varied political membership, recently recommended that there should be no sex education in schools.

Sex even if done at the proper time, with a proper person, in a proper place, is a topic that makes many Indians uncomfortable.

The committee itself refused a power point presentation on the question “after going through the hard copy because of its explicit contents.  The Committee felt that it was not comfortable with it and could be embarrassing especially to the lady Members and other lady staff present.”

The committee has recommended that chapters like ‘Physical and Mental Development in Adolescents’ and ‘HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases’ be removed from the general curriculum.

Instead, they want these topics to be included in biology syllabus for school leaving classes.

This leaves the students of the non-Biology streams at sea.

In school, two years before school leaving exams, I remember waiting expectantly as our Biology teacher reached the last page of a chapter on the Skin, which ended with a description of the anatomy of the female breast.

The teacher, a female, was an old hand and probably sensed the collective eagerness. She promptly skipped the page and went on to the questions at the end of the chapter.

A couple of years later as a Biology student in my school leaving year, the most dog eared pages in our Biology text book described the physiology of the female orgasm and the female reproductive system.

These pages too were skipped on the plea of self study.

At home, any discussion of ‘these’ was possible only in hushed tones with my brother. Involving your parents was out of question.

Nice kids are not supposed to take any interest in ‘these’ things. It’s a given.

Jyoti Bajpai, a development professional working in the field of reproductive and sexual health, recalls her own experience on sex education.

She and her female class mates at school were called away for a session on sex education on a pretext.

“What information we were imparted was limited to menstruation and menstrual hygiene and little else. It’s amazing that boys in my class were kept completely out of this. We were expressly warned against discussing any thing with them.”

When my mother was growing up her parents did their best to postpone the acknowledgement of the fact. She had to turn to her friends.

Things were much the same for my parents and my generation, but are they finally going to change for the coming generation?

A friend I talked to on this issue expressed his doubts on the appropriateness of sex education in schools. “It’s just going to be a source of fun for these kids and nothing else.”

But many Indians don’t see it as reason to deny adolescents the right knowledge, especially with 2.47 million cases of HIV infected persons in the country and with sexual transmission being the predominant mode of HIV transmission.

The NACO website says, “Most young people become sexually active during adolescence. In the absence of right guidance and information at this stage they are more likely to have multi-partner unprotected sex with high risk behaviour groups… “

With increasing exposure to television and internet sex education does not imply teaching kids about sex, which knowledge they will pick up anyways, but for many proponents of sex education it definitely means teaching them about what safe, healthy and acceptable sexual behaviour is.

A whole political culture has been built upon sexual mores- ranging from the Congress-led government calling homosexuality a disease to Hindu fundamentalist groups equating women visiting pubs as ‘loose’.

With two phases of elections to go it remains to be seen if this is going to earn political dividends.

Are our representatives in the parliament providing us leadership or abdicating it by following and mobilising their followers on their less informed instincts?

Comments
30 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

I have visited 23 countries of Africa,Europe, Middle east,Asia pacific. It is my firm belief that we Indians are the most hippocrate people in the world. On the one hand we want to become a modern society but same time we stuck to out dated perceptions.Those who oppose sex education in schools, they are most currupt in their personal lives. In this age of Internet how can you keep apart your children from porn sites which is a main source of myths & wrong informations on sex. Now time has come to impart healthy sex education to our students otherwise they always will be misinformed about safe & healthy sex.

Posted by Yogi Dixit | Report as abusive
 

sex education seems important today than any time before as a large no. of young people are suffering with AIDS than ever.The reason seems lack of proper awareness about the risk involved,and ways to protect themselves, shyness, non availability of information etc.some study in delhi point towards a large percentage of early teenageer being sexualy active.This only substantiate the point that sex education in school years become more important.It is a known fact that curiosity to explore are more when information is not there so sex education might help teenager in avoiding the risk.

Posted by ruby | Report as abusive
 

Sex education is essential in Today’s day and age. I don’t understand why Indians are so embarrassed to talk about sex from an educational point of view. It’s not like India is an Islamic nation but it seems like it has been influenced by it over the centuries. India was a nation of open minded people back in the days. Just look at Kama sutra for instance.Sex is not a crime. In a nation with over 1 Billion people how can they keep the young majority so ignorant?Sex education should be mandatory in all public schools and if due to cultural reasons, they can saperate the session for boys and girls. This can greatly help in family planning, unwanted pregnancies and transmission of various sexually transmitted diseases.Last thing we want is young people learning about sex from watching Porn on line or on TV.

Posted by Jay | Report as abusive
 

its just the un-matured behaviour of the people who are opposing it!Leaving the young generation on a road of doubts! they didnt even themself know what is sex in a descent proper way!India taught the whole world about it but now feeling shame even in discussing it!

Posted by arvind | Report as abusive
 

SEX EDUCATION DOES NOT NOT NEVER REQUIRED 4 INDIA,GUYS N GIRLS READ IT CURIOSLY N FEEL UNUSUAL SEXITEMENT WHICH MAY BE BRING HIM TO DO INTERCOURSE ONLY.AIDS IS NOT ANY MAJOR PROBLEM CAUSE PERSON WHO INDULGE IN SEX ARE WELL AWARE TO PROTECT THEMSELVES.SHRI RATNASUNDARVIJAYJI MAHARAJSAHEB IS ALERT IN THIS CASE TO SAVE BHARAT DESH FROM SEX EDUCATION…

Posted by SNEHAL | Report as abusive
 

It is because of these type of people we don’t have proper sex education in India. India comes next only to African countries in number of people infected with AIDS. No swami is able to do good till now.Truly we have lot of hypocrites in India who don’t want to talk about sex but look at our population. We didn’t become a country with 1 billion in population without sex. A lot of people in India are below poverty line and for them the only source of entertainment is sex, we definitely need sex education Snehal.

Posted by Abhishek | Report as abusive
 

The content of education is the most important one. The terminology of sex-education is also not needed. It is only a provacative or obsession terminology for many. The education should include the sylabus pertaining to physiology of human reproductive system, psycho-social, economic elements, diseases & complications associted with prmiscus sexual habbits that seal the social & economic future of an individual is to be taught at the level of 10th irrespective of their of their group. The graduation at this level should include a qualifing exam in these subjects also.

Posted by Dr subbarao challa | Report as abusive
 

yes, sex education is needed for future generations@snehal: your post is bad, your bad, you should feel bad. Please don’t post again.

Posted by Ravi | Report as abusive
 

@The committee itself refused a power point presentation on the question “after going through the hard copy because of its explicit contents. The Committee felt that it was not comfortable with it and could be embarrassing especially to the lady Members and other lady staff present.”Vipul: That committee is uncomfortable in discussing “Sex” even from academic point suggests that the members of the committee are un-educated in sex. They are just like those teachers who skip pages showing intimate body parts. Does it not make the committe unfit for the job handed to them. Are relevant experts/activists (non-politicians) included on the committee and decision making?The first condition of such a committee is to include people who can talk about sex without going red-faced.Also stupidity at its best that biology studnts will study some of it but not the others. Core problem is that even the adults (in general) are un-educated in sex and first they must learn.In my view there is a need to introduce “sex education” at some level due to changing culture, rising HIV/STDs other diseases.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Dr subbarao challa: Very valid points.This is sensitive topic and demands a teacher who him-/her-self is comfortable–not just any-teacher.

Posted by rajeev | Report as abusive
 

Wonder what would the teacher do if somebody asked for a live demonstration!

Posted by Venkatramana D | Report as abusive
 

Traditionally, sex education came from the home. I do not see any problem with someone’s reservations to receiving sex education. Many, including myself, believe that sex is something that is better kept in the bedroom, with education being done by informed parents starting at a young age (don’t let strangers touch you, cover up your nudity, etc.) and continuing through to puberty (beware of stds, consequences of pregnancy, etc.). Those that are social conservatives often take umbridge with the content of sex ed classes which often include pornography and forced acceptance of aberrant lifestyles such as homosexuality. Granted, I am sure that the majority of the opposition are probably more concerned about controlling women and the classes than preventing the decomposition of traditional morality (which is a shame). By becoming like Western children in promiscuity, the social and emotional baggage of having multiple sex partners are sure to bring the crippling mental and emotional disorders that usually accompany such Westernized behavior to Indian society (it has already started). There will be no escaping the pressure of progressives to institute sex ed classes in the long run. Hopefully, the sex ed program that is eventually passed will allow children to opt out due to conscious if that is the child’s and family’s decision. People are sure to rant that this is a backward statement, but mongamous sexually pure relationships are highly underrated. Sometimes ignorance IS bliss.

Posted by Justin | Report as abusive
 

Sex Education is intended to endoctrinate not educate. The idea here is to make children comfortable with promiscious sex. That in turn leads to low self-esteem and ultimately mental weakness. When people are broken emotionally, they can then be controlled physically. This is the ultimate goal of the political left.

Posted by Isaiah C | Report as abusive
 

land of kamasutra shying away from sex-education….sounds so odd…..!!!if we thinks twice…it is not so much odd enough….now sex is a major component to endorse business,…as it is the one of the most powerful basic instinct of humnan……to endorse even a furniture product, companies feel, tht, it should show some beautyful girls inner skin….(!),…given the situation, sex is the another weapon, just to promote many-many products…just like politicians mixed-up religion with politics for their advantage, busineesmen trying tht with sex and society,….Whenevr, someone advocates for sex-education, i am always suspected about the real motive of that thought.If, they really want sex to be taught, just for the sake of informing young generation,… then, from family level it should be implemented,…they better know how to handle their son-daughter…otherwise, may be wild exaggeration, situation will come, we have to supply condomns in school level itself…just to justify the sex-education in practical level…

 

Please understand that ‘sex literature’ and ‘sex education’ are two different things. We have had enough of going back to history and feeling proud of ‘Kamasutra’ and ‘Khajuraho’.Kamasutra doesn’t tell you about HIV! The point Mr. Vipul was trying to drive home was that Youngsters need to be educated properly so that they don’t be the victims of HIV or other STD, and Its our responsibility to make sure that we don’t shy away from educating Gen-X about the ‘sex education’. Problem, I believe, is that most of us fail to distinguish between normal chats about ‘sex’ and the ‘sex education’.

Posted by Rahul | Report as abusive
 

Why just the sex-education, safe fuel (CNG), basic rights for the third sex, sex-education, warning on tobacco products, restricting banned medicines… people in khadi have never taken a decisions on their own. More than confronting the topic head-on, they are more concerned with either the money factor or the mockery that others will make.

Posted by Neeraj N | Report as abusive
 

Some time i remeber two incident, – one when some one told me about the philosphy of OSHO -”IF you keep away every sex appeal material thing from world soon rapes will start on street” (i am not sure of the statement given by him or not) and second while watching kabhi alivida na khena as people are so uncomfortable with the concepts.Now how it relate to this topic. Its simple we have problem of acceptance and habbit of critcising those thing in public which we all endores some how little in our heart.SEX theree capital word itself has more appeal than other word of english dictanory. So better change the name as Adloscone education to provide them right way of doing or taking relationship intimate moments in proper manner. Also it helps to prevent STI dieases plus the purpose will solve but dont lable itas a sex education and let it drive for the safety of our young generation even those who are in ages of 11-14 specialy girls more mature than man due to their bilogical difference, and they are more exposed with other part of sex, so better provide some thing seriuos in terms of education solutions or what ever .But give them its their right.

Posted by Amit Daga | Report as abusive
 

oh c’mon….!!if, by the phrase,”sex education” means, making the so called Gen-X away from all STDs and AIDS…., then i think, it is better to give ad (already there), to use precautions, and do’s and donts… i dont think for tht so much hush-hush to be made… i think u just narrowed the scope of sex-education…it can cover wide topics, and no-way related to the chit-chat tht boys-gals do on gtalk…the only think to be cared is, dont let those business goons corrupt our younger generation,…given the fact tht, divorce rate, rape, molestations are already hiking in alarming figure… we have a good example of over-exploited wetern culture…

 

one more thing,… sex can be written small letters also…….;-)

 

Instead of promoting sex education why dont we promote to teach Yoga, Meditation, etc. This will help students in many ways.

Posted by Nagesh Jaiswal | Report as abusive
 

well,i completley agreed wotever has written above. evn i went thru the same phase where in school my biology teacher skipped the chapter intelligently. and we all guys left dissapointed.At that stage we din\’t relaise the importance of that chpter rather that knowledge but later i relaised it. Its very importnatto impart Sex eductaion in scholl level only. so that once kids get out of the school they would take their \’ own call\’ rather letting other to take the call on their decision.

 

I am of Indian origin, and have lived in the USA for more than 25 years. Here children are given a careful explanation of sex in the 5th grade when they are between 10 and 11 years old. The girls are taken to a room and instructed by women teachers, and the men by men teachers. Both sets of instructors are trained to present the material in a non-provocative way and the parents are informed by letter well in advance. All of this is considered an essential part of education and every discussion is treated seriously. In modern society, children mature sexually around that age and failure to instruct them, or to actively create an incentive to explore by suppressing the information, is likely to be very costly for them. Yet it is not a guarantee of any sort. India, the land of Khajuraho, Kama Sutra, and the temples in Madurai, was not prudish about sex in the past. Treated responsibly as in those times, sex was holy; it becomes pornography when concealed and debased by the wink-and-nod and nice-people-don’t-need-to-know-this attitude.

Posted by AL | Report as abusive
 

HiI am a teacher from Australia. i am doing a project with the class. We are trying to map the extent and quality of sex education around the world, since no such resource exists. i found your blog opinions most interesting. Over population is a big problem around the world, checked only by war and disease. Its important that some form of sex education be developed now, in the world’s most populous nation.

Posted by john kyriazis | Report as abusive
 

John in Australia,You mention “most populous nation” in relation to India. This is incorrect, China has the largest population.Second, I’m surprised you think overpopulation is such a problem, given that you live in Australia. India has a population of 1,147 Million, with a landmass of 3.2 Million Km2. Australia has a population of only 21.7 Million and a landmass of 7.6 Million Km2. Australia is twice as big as India, but has a population only about 2% of India’s.Yeah, overpopulation is rampant in the outback of Australia.DeltaB

Posted by DeltaB | Report as abusive
 

Let me first get this straight. Sex Ed is NOT JUST about teaching people, in this case, school kids, how to have safe sex. Having safe sex, and protecting oneself from sexually transmitted diseases and avoiding teenage pregnancy is just one part of it. The whole idea of imparting sex-ed is to teach children about the biology and physiology of their own bodies. The aim is to make children become aware of their own body parts and to become comfortable and not conscious about it.If young girls, and even boys, are given sex-ed, which, in turn prevents them from, say, being molested, then it truly serves the purpose. It’s not only about sexual intercourse and private parts. It’s also about being able to foresee what repercussions their actions, case in point, unsafe sex, and others’ actions, case in point, molestion/rape, will have.I was a biology student myself, and thankfully, our teacher went to the extent of explaining how exactly, unsafe sex might lead to pregnancy. None of us went red, well maybe some. But the point is, that, that one chapter might help us adults somewhere in our lives in making some important choices!My mother never shied away from my queries. Neither will I, irrespective of whether it’s my daughter asking, or son. I will not reprimand him and ask him to question his father. I would rather teach her the important aspects of sex, than deal with a teenage pregnant daughter!!Maybe we need more ‘mature’ teachers, who can explain to students how exactly the human body works. We surely need politicians who understand that sex-ed teachers are not teaching students how to have sex, or for that matter, telling the students that it’s okay to have sex, as long as you do it safely. Why need moral police when something as basic as this can prevent STDs, AIDS, even rape! Abstinence is NOT the key word here. It surely doesn’t explain how a nation would have a population of 1 billion..

Posted by Tanushree | Report as abusive
 

Let me first get this straight. Sex Ed is NOT JUST about teaching people, in this case, school kids, how to have safe sex. Having safe sex, and protecting oneself from sexually transmitted diseases and avoiding teenage pregnancy is just one part of it. The whole idea of imparting sex-ed is to teach children about the biology and physiology of their own bodies. The aim is to make children become aware of their own body parts and to become comfortable and not conscious about it.If young girls, and even boys, are given sex-ed, which, in turn prevents them from, say, being molested, then it truly serves the purpose. It’s not only about sexual intercourse and private parts. It’s also about being able to foresee what repercussions their actions, case in point, unsafe sex, and others’ actions, case in point, molestion/rape, will have.I was a biology student myself, and thankfully, our teacher went to the extent of explaining how exactly, unsafe sex might lead to pregnancy. None of us went red, well maybe some. But the point is, that, that one chapter might help us adults somewhere in our lives in making some important choices!My mother never shied away from my queries. Neither will I, irrespective of whether it’s my daughter asking, or son. I will not reprimand him and ask him to question his father. I would rather teach her the important aspects of sex, than deal with a teenage pregnant daughter!!Maybe we need more ‘mature’ teachers, who can explain to students how exactly the human body works. We surely need politicians who understand that sex-ed teachers are not teaching students how to have sex, or for that matter, telling the students that it’s okay to have sex, as long as you do it safely. Why need moral police when something as basic as this can prevent STDs, AIDS, even rape! Abstinence is NOT the key word here. It surely doesn’t explain how a nation would have a population of 1 billion..

Posted by Tanushree | Report as abusive
 

When I was in college, I had a roommate who graduated from a catholic school in New Jersey. One night she came home from a date, and asked me “Can I get pregnant if I have my underpants on?”That answers this question for me.

Posted by Diane | Report as abusive
 

Dear Mr. Tripathi,What you tried to argue is a fact omnipresent everywhere in India. We must remember that we are a society which even treats Sex and Sex Education as a Taboo. To some extent, it is not be rejected at once. But we must see our ancient scriptures and monuments which depicts sexual life in a very ornamental ways. We need a balanced approach in this regard. We need not to copy the Western influence as well as be more than a progressive on this issue.Important is this that we need a proper guidance by the teachers of Psychological background and also a forward step by the family.ThanksBalendu Priyadarshan

Posted by Balendu Priyadarshan | Report as abusive
 

Have u seen LIVETUTOR its amazing. Its about online teaching through videophone.

 

A very recent short online nationwide survey on the new education policy where board exams for class 10th being abolished by CBSE Board, which is still in progress, by a leading Indian market research agency Impetus Research reveal following results:Check this out !!1. Do you think this would help the education system in this country?Yes : 34%No : 65%2. Should Class X CBSE examination be made optional?Yes : 27%No : 73%3. What is the single most important objective behind introducing this reform?Publicity Stunt : 20%Cost Cutting : 10%Reduce / Destress Student : 18%Ensuring every one is atleast 10th Pass : 42%Dont Know/ Cant Say : 05%Other reasons : 05%This survey is still on and those who intend to participate can participate using following link :http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=W 50CCMFBpyofXgJC5aTrzQ_3d_3d

Posted by Raghav | Report as abusive
 

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