In a bid to impart sexual knowledge among children, the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) is likely to consider a proposal to revise textbooks for young children to include identification of male and female genitalia and have a chapter on sex education and child abuse.
This decision comes as a result of a study conducted in 2016 by the medical students of the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) in Wardha. What did the study find out?
Something we all knew but never realised.
The study reported how the lack of sex education was the prime reason why many child sexual abuse cases went unreported.
It analysed class I and class II NCERT textbooks and found out that the syllabus covers the basic human body parts but refrained from labelling the genital organs.
The diagram of a naked body labelled parts such as the nose, knees, and hands but kept the genital area covered. After all its hurts the Indian values, doesn’t it?
These NCERT textbooks introduce male genitalia in class VII and female genitalia in class X. While in France, schools pass out condoms to students in grades VII and IX. Quite a difference?
It’s 2018 and only Tamil Nadu teaches about child sexual abuse
When states like Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Kerala, Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh, and Goa neglected sex education in their states, Tamil Nadu thought differently.
The report also studied textbooks for Class I to VII of NCERT, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Delhi, and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE-ICSE) boards, as well as of different state boards.
Out of them, only Tamil Nadu exclusively taught children about child sex abuse or how to report it.
But the teachers have never been comfortable in taking part in the ‘sex education’ initiative. Not only in Tamil Nadu, but in the neighbouring state of Kerala, 80% of the students were ready to take sex-ed classes, but it was the teachers who weren’t ready.
While Tamil Nadu has had its own problems in implementing this initiative we’ve got to give it to them for at-least introducing it in the first place.
Why is it a welcome move?
In India, a shocking 53% of children between the age of 5 to 12 are subjected to sexual abuse. That’s more than half of the child population.
“A minor victim of sexual abuse is unable to name body parts to describe an assault. “They give vague references to private parts. It is necessary to educate children at an early age,” said Dr. Indrajit Khandekar of the forensic department of MGIMS.
The culture of silence surrounding these issues means that people don’t speak up. For a child of this age who does not even know that they are being abused, how will these cases even come up in the public eye?
“Teaching students about these body parts may help increase reporting of cases,” Khandekar added.
There are around 62 teens out of every 1000 pregnant women, which is almost double the US, three times that of UK, and nearly 10 times higher than Western Europe. Awareness will only decrease this number.
Flavia Agnes, director of legal centre Majlis, argued that we need to go beyond the concept of good touch and bad touch.
“We need to go beyond good touch and bad touch. In western countries, the education starts earlier. This will also help in making a case stronger against the accused,” Agnes was quoted saying.
The proposal still needs approval
Apart from the NCERT, the following report has been submitted to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Union HRD Minister Prakash Javadekar, and the Maharashtra Education Minister.
Sex education was previously banned by the Maharashtra government in 2007. It remains to be seen whether 11 years have changed something or not.
Professor Saroj Yadav, Dean (Academics) at NCERT has said that the proposal will be placed before the textbook development committee.
“Whatever the committee decides, will be the final revision. So far, we have not decided which class will need a revision,” Yadav said.
The country for long has been crying out for sex education to be implemented in the institutions of our country.
Although this might be a small step, it may be the beginning of something big to come up in our education system. These revisions will surely be a progressive step.
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