Amongst the most ignored subjects in our country, sex education and personal hygiene possibly make it to the top ten list. Parents are too embarrassed to broach the subject at home, and the stigma doesn’t spare the education system as well. This taboo in the Indian society is leading to misdelivery of information in the youth while they are entering adulthood.
In the midst of all the stigma and awkwardness, the Maharashtra government, in collaboration with United Nations, has taken an initiative like no other.
Children from the age of 12, studying in Maharashtra’s residential tribal boarding schools will be given regular lessons on sex and reproductive health, topics such as gender sensitivity and pregnancy will also be covered. The aim is to reach 543 tribal schools in Maharashtra, so that the subject can be discussed freely and effectively. Sex education aims to help young children understand issues related to sex and sexuality. It helps them manage their sexual health and hygiene.
A step like this is unprecedented and the fact that it is starting in tribal schools will set a good example for the metropolitan cities. The subject of sex education has always been ignored in India mainly due to the social construct. In a country like India, where marriage before 18 and teen pregnancy still prevails, this knowledge is very relevant. Young adults are poorly informed about diseases related to sex and hygiene. According to a survey done by WHO in 2012, only 14% of girls residing in rural areas knew about HIV/AIDS or other sexually transmitted diseases. 30% of the female population in India were married as adolescents, between 2002-2012. These shocking statistics call for some action and thought.
Sex education is looked at in a bad light by most parents and teachers. It is considered to be obscene; they think of it as encouragement for students to engage in such activities at an early age. They do not seem to understand that not giving children the knowledge would lead them to wrong ways of getting the information, which will do more harm than good.
With an increasing awareness seeping into the country’s administration and citizens, many other states like Haryana are planning to introduce this subject in middle and high schools. The Human Resources Development ministry asked for introduction of lessons about health, hygiene and also against unprotected sex. The only catch and challenge was the fact that they did not wish to use the word ‘sex’. (India Today report October 2016). The fact that so many states are realising the importance of this subject and are incorporating it in the syllabus is commendable.
This initiative is a very strong move by the Maharashtra government along with Tribal Minister Vishnu Savara. It will set a great example and will deconstruct the taboo our society carries, bit by bit.
The CSR Journal Team Subscribe