The Union HRD Ministry'smove to introduce sex education in schools received a severe jolt when the Rajya Sabha Committee on Petitions clearly said no to sex education in schools. The committee rather recommended the Ministry to finalise proposals on the new syllabus, which act as a model for the entire country and obtain approval of the competent authorities. It also said that this matter should be placed before the Chief Ministers? Conference so that a general consensus could be arrived at before implementing it in all the schools of the country.
It is to be noted that the HRD Ministry'smove to introduce sex education had received strong opposition from across the country. Many social, religious and educational organisations came to the streets against it. Eleven state governments including the Left Front government of Kerala, Congress Government of Maharashtra and all BJP-ruled State governments strongly opposed the move and refused to implement its highly objectionable Adolescent Education Programme. The Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad and some other organisations, with the blessings of leading Jain saint Acharya Vijay Ratnasunder Surishwar Maharaj, launched a sustained campaign against the sex education.
The Rajya Sabha Committee conducted hearing in seven big cities of the country and received over 40,000 applications. The Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti too presented a memorandum containing more than 4, 15,000 signatures to the committee against introduction of sex education. Shri M Venkaiah Naidu was chairman of this committee and it submitted its report to Chairman of Rajya Sabha Shri Hamid Ansari on April 2. The other members of the committee included Shri Nandi Yellaiah, Shri V Narayanasamy, Prof. Alka Balram Kshatriya, Smt. Maya Singh, Shri Virendra Bhatia, Shri Moinul Hassan, Shri Thanga Tamil Selvan, Shri Subash Prasad Yadav and Shri Dinesh Trivedi.
The committee strongly recommended the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to consider its observations and recommendations while finalising the new syllabus on the basis of the revised curriculum submitted by the National Review Committee. ?After taking into consideration these observations and recommendations, the feedback received from the State governments and UT administrations, the feedback received from parents, teachers and other experts and the general public, the Ministry should finalise proposals on the new syllabus, which would act as a model for the entire country, and obtain approval of the competent authorities.
?Pending finalisation of the new syllabus, the Committee calls upon the Ministry of HRD (Department of School Education and Literacy) to issue advisories to Chief Secretaries/Education Secretaries of all States/UT Administrations to withdraw the existing Adolescent Education Programme literature from all schools, State run or CBSE affiliated, if those are still in circulation. The Committee would like the Ministry of HRD, being the nodal Ministry, to clarify to all concerned that pending finalisation of a national policy on the new curriculum, no other set of instructions should be allowed to be introduced in the schools, in any form or manner. Learning from past experience, the nodal Ministry must ensure that the entire process is completed under its superintendence, direction and control,? the report said.
The committee further said the appropriate age-specific curriculum should be drawn up for scientific health education, moral education, personality development and character building, environmental awareness and social awareness. Health education may include education on hygiene and physiological changes, which takes place in the adolescents especially amongst the girls. The curriculum may commence from 8th standard onwards to be implemented in all the schools?government, public and private. Education about HIV/AIDS and need to control this deadly disease including Sexually Transmitted Disease may be imparted in the higher classes. Appropriate chapters thereon may be considered for inclusion in the syllabus of ?Biology?, not before 10+2 stage, the report said.
The committee further said awareness of the rich cultural heritage of the country needs to be spread amongst school children by using latest technology like audio animatronics shows, hi-tech museums, cultural tableaux, theme parks etc., so that the target group takes keen interest in the subject. Students should also be taught the values of our family system and the need to preserve it. ?The new curriculum should include appropriate material on the lives and teachings of our great saints, spiritual leaders, freedom fighters and national heroes so as to re-inculcate in children our national ideals and values which would also neutralise the impact of cultural invasion from various sources,? the report added.
The report further said, ?Our school syllabi must cater to the needs and requirement of our society and culture. Our country'ssocial and culture ethos are such that sex education has absolutely no place in it. Basic human instincts like food, fear, greed, coitus etc. need not be taught, rather control of these instincts should be the subject of education. But present academic system incites stimulation of instincts, which is detrimental to the society. To focus Indian education on ?instinct control? should the important objective and for that the dignity of restraint has to be well entrenched in education.?
About the revised curriculum drawn up by the Review Committee under the chairmanship of CBSE chairman the Petition Committee said the chapters like ?Physical and Mental Development in Adolescents? and ?HIV/AIDS and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases? and other chapters related to these topics may be removed from the present curriculum and included in the books of Biology not before the 10+2 stage. This would be more effective, appropriate and acceptable. The remaining chapters be made more extensive and introduced under a new name ?Character Building and Personality Development Programme?. The ultimate aim of the new syllabus should focus on the total development of the child, the report added.
The report stressed the need to reintroduce the subject of moral values in the school curricula since society seems to have lost much of its faith in the ethical value of humanity. These values have always been emphasised in the Indian scriptures and epics. What has been viewed for so long as a family responsibility, value education should become an important part of the curriculum of any educating body. The responsibility of strengthening the values of a society lies not only in the individual hands; educators must assume the role of mentors in this time of need and bring about change to usher in a better world?a world of unselfish concern for those around us,? the report said.