Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Sex education, for whom?

Trust our politicians and administrators to mess up things. The latest row is over whether Indian schools should have sex education or not. If so, from what grade. This is a needlessly controversy, badly handled. Children, who are sought to be protected from this three-letter word are, ironically, hearing and reading a lot about it! A major PR disaster by our educationists, that was further complicated by our politicians.

First the Madhya Pradesh state government banned sex education, then Maharashtra government followed suit. In Karnataka, a minister said there was no need for it, since children don't get AIDS! Coincidentally, a few days later, a Std X girl died of AIDS in Delhi's AIIMS.

Our country has a glorious history and culture of sex. Kama Sutra, the ancient Indian text on human sexual behaviour composed by Vatsyayana and Khajuraho temple in Madhya Pradesh famous for its erotic sculpture, are just two examples. Add to these today's liberal lifestyle.

It would surely be not an exaggeration to say that there is at least something remotely sexual in lot of the body language and the non-verbal communication that we get to see and hear around us.

Well, that's in the cities. But, in the villages and smaller towns, it's more conservative. Yet only the word 'sex' is a taboo, not the act. It's all there but behind the curtains and bushes. In the cities, though, it's out there, to various extents, in the open: be it in the parks or in the malls. That's all the difference. And, the present controversy is a reflection of this conflict, not our engagement with sex or sexuality.

For a student, what matters is the knowledge that is imparted, not the name of the course. Everything that is supposed to be taught under "sex education" can easily be taught under "health education". After all, we aren't teaching students when to have it or how to have it. It's more about the anatomical and biological aspects, and not the emotional or psychological aspects.

So, knowing well our collective -- not individual -- discomfort with the word "sex", it would have been more prudent to have quietly enhanced the current health education syllabus in schools. There was no need to separate sex from the general health education syllabus, and introduce it as sex education.

At the end of it all, our students would have got to know all they should have actually known, without the raised eyebrows and the discordant notes. Our objective is to educate the children, is it not, not fight over the name of the course.

PS: Going by the extent of taboos and misconceptions among adults, I think, it's the adults who really need a sex education, that too in some good detail. And, for children, health education, with sex and sexuality discreetly included in it.


  1. Yeah that is soo true sir!!
    Like u said, In villages only the word "SEX" is a taboo but they do it all the time, its just that they dont become public unlike here.
    btw what do u think about making kannada medium till 7th standards as compulsory!!
    I just hate that rule. I hope they don't make kannada medium compulsory. people are already struggling to get a job these days because of poor english! I dont want it to worsen even more.

    Peace & Love

  2. Hi ! I really liked the way you introduced yourself matter of fact.
    May I kindly invite you to visit my blog
    My latest post is about ban on sex education.
    Warm regards

  3. Times have changed a lot. Even in villages people are getting better informed about what sex rightly means. We have lived with a baggage that sees sex as wrong. But everyone indulges in it.

    When a child touches his/her sex organ, haven't we seen some parents hitting the kids, instead of trying to explain to kids that it is bad manners to touch it in public.

    The anatomical and biological aspects have to be taught to the students. As I have mentioned in my blog, if the word sex is what is troublesome, we might as well have the same things taught under Health Education.

  4. hi - in the west i have seen it as part of the middle school curriculum. but i guess with the advent of the internet and TV it is no longer a must - on the other hand, i agree that education is first of all the necessity followed by not just sex education, but clearing up all that stuff about barren-ness, gods gifts and all that, color & sex of the child, ah well the list goes on....

  5. hmm its good
    but you know at the same time i am also wondering how practically it happen what the teacher himself/herslef do not know any thing about the sex and what she/he will teach I am little worred for the students.

  6. Jagdeesh: Thanks for visiting my blog and jotting down your points.
    I can't access your blog, since I can't access your profile.. What our blog URL?

  7. What we need now is not sex education for kids. We need to educate the adults as you say at the end of the post. A respect for people and respect for sex too. If we try to educate the kids with no needed awareness for the elders - and the teachers alike - it could be a disaster.

  8. The conservative communities such as ours are funny that way. Nobody wants to talk about it, but our population continues to explode. Most of the eastern conservative countries struggle with population explosion. Strangely enough, the western countries that talk about sex are also the ones with the reverse population issues! Not enough growth on their population charts!!

  9. If ever proper sex education was necessary for children, it is now - with all the uncensored access to internet sites and the kind of themes and scenes in our films.
    I totally agree with you.

  10. Yep, the "sex education" can easily be taught under "health education". Much publicised Yoga Guru Swami Ramdev says,"Yoga Shiksha" should be given instead of "Yon Shiksha".