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Maharashtra becomes the fifth State to ban sex education
PRIYANKA RAI & PRADEEP VARMA | Issue Dated: April 15, 2007
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ET TU VILASRAO “It is obscene, has corrupting influence, it will spoil the youngsters” are some of the remarks from State governments across the country about the Centre's proposal to include sex education in school curriculum to create AIDS awareness among students. Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu have banned sex education in schools and now the Vilasrao Deshmukh government in Maharashtra has clamped a similar ban.

These governments believe in what TSI wrote in its cover story Brouhaha over Birds and Bees (issue dated 12-18 Feb) that the Centre’s proposal was not in accordance with Indian ethos and could be misused by unscrupulous elements masquerading as teachers. One of the proposals was that students need to be taught about the use of condoms or how they should take care of a newly born baby. Confused with his own ministry's decision to allow the CBSE to introduce sex education in schools (under its adolescent education progamme), Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development M.A.A. Fatmi says, "I still don't know what is wrong with the curriculum. I will have to see why the States are having a problem. I feel students should learn about health, hygiene and it is also important to learn about how to prevent AIDS."

Fatmi is blank when asked why a class VIII student should be taught the use of condoms or the need of teaching a class XII student about 'how to be a good parent'? “I wll get back to you after reading the book,” he told TSI. Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan feels children should be taught yoga and Indian culture and tradition instead of sex education.

In Maharashtra, the Opposition and the ruling party joined hands in demanding a ban on sex education in schools resulting in a major uproar in the Assembly following which Education Minister Hasan Mushrif announced, “The government has no plans to introduce sex education in Maharashtra.” With exception of Maharashtra, all States that have banned sex education have non-Congress governments. So, why did the Congress government in Maharashtra follow suit. “It is not a clash of policies. We simply had to respect the sentiments of the Assembly and hope the Centre too will understand”, Mushrif told TSI.

The ban comes at a time when the government has started training teachers to teach the subject. The schools were to introduce the subject in the next academic session. India, some say, is on the verge of an AIDS explosion. Experts have been requesting, for some years, to start serious lessons in sex education to schoolchildren. Instead of a ban, perhaps the State governments could have modified the curriculum. Healthcare is, afterall, more important than pleasing the moral police.
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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017