“Sex Ed Not Required In Indian Schools” – Why This Is Wrong Advice!

Posted: September 1, 2019

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The RSS linked SSUN – Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas recently stated that sex education is not a requirement for schools. We disagree.

Recently the RSS affiliate Shiksha Sanskriti Utthan Nyas (SSUN) made a recommendation to the government in India that sex education must not be mandatory for all students in schools. What they recommend instead is ‘need-based counselling’ to the parents of teenagers and students with ‘specific issues’, and that schools mustn’t have sex education as a subject, or as any part of the school curriculum.

Ironically enough they use the term ‘sex education’ several times in the statement against it, and do not offer a suitable replacement or alternative.

The SSUN founded by RSS educationist and historian Dinanath Batra has been a staunch advocate of the view that educational institutions in India must include various tenets of India’s traditional knowledge system. They want the focus to be shifted to the Vedas and ancient Indian philosophy.

A myopic view of the issue

Sex education sadly is still being labelled as a ‘western idea’. The SSUN spokesperson said in his statement that wherever it has been implemented it has had a “bad effect.”

Currently schools in India do inculcate and impart life skills included in the overall school curriculum, and this is integrated across various subjects and classes, and has an age appropriate basic sexual education component too.

Ironical as it may sound that a country still fighting menstrual taboos, reproductive rights issues, rights of LGBTQIA, and social taboos like marital rape is being asked to not even start conversations about sexual identity, consent and sexual etiquette and sexual violence in the education system.

Most men and women in India who were in schools till about 1990s did not have any access to sex education in the curriculum. Even the chapters in biology about male and female anatomy were often left for ‘homework’ or ‘self-study’, as most educators refused to use the images and texts in classrooms pertaining to genitals and sexual reproduction.

Across the world, education systems are striving to be inclusive, yet a public body is making a suggestion here which is almost like stepping back through time and cancelling out a positive change that came about only as a result of a persistent and long drawn battle by educational thinkers, crusaders and academicians.

How does a lack of proper sex ed harm?

A series of tweets by VictimFocus founder and Twitter influencer Dr. Jessica Eaton spoke about the stigma in sexual education in the UK. She said that teachers are unfortunately falling into sexist taboos and thus shying away from naming female anatomy parts like the vagina in classes. This bad or ill-equipped sex ed might do more damage than creating awareness in class rooms, and further stigmatise the issue.

Check out the thread of tweets here:

This has brought the focus back on the issues of shame and fear associated with sexual learning, more so in conventional societies like ours.

We believe that instead of empowering the students and making them aware, this exposure might make the teenagers/pre-teens curious and lead to sexual experimentation and ‘moral downfall’. Some even blame this component of education for rising sexual crimes which is again a prejudice.

The National Education Policy

The National Education Policy draft prepared by the RK Kasturirangan committee constituted by the centre, submitted it to the Indian HRD Minister Mr. Ramesh Pokhriyal Nishank in May 2019.

It clearly states the need for the inclusion of sex education especially in secondary school studies and suggests topics ranging from consent, respect and safety of women, family planning, harassment to the prevention of various sexually transmitted diseases as well.

The National Education Policy draft was made public by the HRD ministry, and it was indicated that only after considering the suggestions from the general public, and consultation with experts shall this be finalised as government policy. The Minister said that the ministry had received as many as 1,50,000 suggestions from the public and diverse stakeholders in education and academics.

What happens after this, is to be seen.

Image source: shutterstock

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Pooja Priyamvada is a columnist, professional translator and an online content and Social Media consultant.

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