India: Sex Education Runs Into Trouble
August 29, 2007
The government's decision to introduce sex education in schools, primarily to promote HIV/AIDS awareness, has provoked vigorous debate in conservative India. Indeed, more than 30 percent of Indian states have rejected the government-supported program.
One main source of contention is a flip chart that was prepared jointly by India's National AIDS Control Organization and UNICEF. The "Knowledge is Power" chart contains illustrations and images that address issues related to growing up and relationships in the context of STDs and HIV. The chart also includes a chapter on essential skills needed to prevent HIV/AIDS.
Opponents say the chart's visuals are too "graphic." "We run about 26,000 schools across the country. Our teachers have studied the curriculum and they find it obscene and objectionable," said Ram Madhav, spokesperson for the Hindu organization Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh. "The whole curriculum is designed to suit the lifestyle in Western countries, where there is a general free atmosphere. In our country, we live with families."
The curriculum fails to adequately emphasize "the Indian value system," said Prakash Javadekar, spokesperson for India's main opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). "We want our children to get scientific education. But you have to teach the moral of the subject. You have to teach them that restraint is a must," he said. "This is a value system where you teach them not to have sex till you get married."
"It is incorrect and meaningless to render information about sex and condoms to children. It would only disturb the development of a child's mind," said BJP member and former federal education minister Murli Monhar Joshi.
8.22.2007; Jyotsna Singh
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.