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Sex education through generic life skills


MOHIT RANADIP | Kolkata, August 8, 2012 12:46
Tags : sex education | genric life skills | Mohit Ranadip |

The world we are living in is in a flux and and that has affected our economy, our politics, our society, and our family systems. To cut it short - no aspect of life is immune to this change.

Globalization and market economy are facilitating these changes. On one hand, we are at the doorstep of many new and exciting possibilities, on the other hand, survival itself has become insecure and uncertain.

Child and adolescent minds are not impervious to these influences. Stress has become an unavoidable component of their daily life. Various psychological problems are rising. Many young minds are suffering from anxiety, depression and various mental health problems. According to World Health Organization (WHO), about 20 to 30 per cent children suffer from various psychosocial problems and 3 to 12 per cent suffer from psychiatric disorders.

Early age sexual misadventures without proper sense of responsibility, unwanted teenage pregnancy and sexual offenses have become quite common.

To conquer the situation, particularly the issues related to teenage sex, many Indian states have imparted sex education under the special curricula titled “Life Skills Education” or “Science of Living” or “Sexuality and Reproductive Health Education” or “Life Style Education”. Though the ground reality seems unchanged particularly the boys students still lack far behind as they don't find anyone reliable to discuss their problems. Due to several barriers like language and content of the subject, the life style education (read, sex-education) in Bengal has become a total failure.

With this background in mind, the role of our schools and education systems in the comprehensive development of our children and adolescents need serious rethinking. Need to rethink and reformulate educational system making it more sensitive to current realities. UNESCO has formed a commission under the leadership of Jack Delore to formulate guidelines for education systems appropriate to twenty-first century. The Delore’s commission report was published in 1996 with the heading “Learning: The Treasure Within”. The report stated: ‘The commission felt that education throughout life is based upon four pillars: learning to know, learning to do, learning to live together and learning to be.’

How far our current educational system serves these four pillars of education, as mentioned in the UNESCO report needs critical rethinking.

From what Tagore and Gandhi said long back and from what the Delores’s commission report says recently, it becomes clear that a fundamental revision of our educational curriculum and educational system has become imperative.

Need and scope of human development through school education is an important concern. Our school system occupies ten to twelve years of primetime of our lives and during these years students accumulate a vast amount of information, mostly from books. Most of this information has little to do with day-to-day lives of the student and primarily serves to secure some marks in the examinations through faithful repetitions on answer sheets. Some of this information may become useful in future life if and only if one takes up a job in related field. The rest is promptly forgotten soon after the exam is over. And the whole issue of comprehensive human development remains totally neglected in the curriculum.

In today’s world and today’s schools, Life Skills Education can take up the mantle of preparing young girls and boys for a better and more fulfilling life through improving their psychosocial competence. Life skills Education needs to be integrated within the school curriculum from primary level.

Life Skills are a set of human skills acquired via teaching or direct experience that are used to handle problems and questions commonly encountered in daily human life, including the issues related to sex.

The life skills approach is an interactive; it is also aims at shaping attitudes and developing interpersonal skills. The important understanding of the life skills approach is to enhance young people’s ability to take responsibility for making healthier choices, resisting negative pressures, and avoiding high-risk behaviors.

In our present context, unsafe and irresponsible sexual behaviors are emerging as high-risk behavior among adolescents. Issues of early pregnancy, sexual abuse, early sexual experimentation, sexually transmitted diseases, gender discrimination, marriage, intimate relationship, and sexual hygiene all should be addressed at secondary level of education. Life skills education will help children to get aware about changes occurred in during puberty and adolescence. Problem solving, coping with emotion skills will help them to be responsible regarding prevention of high-risk behaviors. Assertiveness and communication skills will help them to protect from sexual abuse.


The writer is Member of West Bengal State Mental Health Authority


(Disclaimer: The views expressed in the blog are that of the author and does not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The Sunday Indian)
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017