The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sex education from Class VI, as ‘life skills’

The ruling Reds appear to be running a reality check. After refusing for over 25 years to talk about it, they are all set to say yes to sex — in the school curriculum.

Sex education, so long taboo in state-run or aided schools in Calcutta and elsewhere in the state, will soon form part of the curriculum from Class VI, under a euphemism — life skills.

Officials said on Friday that the 13-member Ranju Gopal Mukherjee committee on school education revamp has been briefed by the Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee government to produce a roadmap for five critical areas, including sex education. Change in academic session, reduction in holidays, sharing of infrastructure and vocational training are the others. “If things go right, we should be able to think of introducing ‘life skills’ in the curriculum in the 2004 academic session,” said an official.

With the chief minister taking a keen interest in modernising school education, the Mukherjee committee — whose tenure was extended even after production of the final report, capping 15 months’ work from October 2001 — will be required to structure the introduction of sex education, in conformity with Unesco and Unicef guidelines.

As and when the roadmap is ready, at least 2,500 institutions in Calcutta and another 5,000 in the districts will be required to impart sex education to boys and girls from Class VI.

“The term ‘life skills’ is being used as it refers to the abilities that help an individual develop the efficiency to deal with the demands and challenges of everyday life. We will soon begin organising workshops and meetings involving students, parents, teachers and experts working in this area and decide how this new concept can be taught in class,” said Mukherjee on Friday.

But the ruling CPM is wary of the new subject travelling to co-educational schools in the rural belts. “This is one of the reasons we are not calling it sex education. ‘Life skills’ covers a huge range of skills, through which students will learn to fight contemporary challenges, like drug-related violence, teenage pregnancy and AIDS,” said an official.

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