Calcutta, Sept. 24: The state government has rejected a proposal to introduce sex education in Classes IX and X, Bratya Basu told the Assembly today.
“We will never introduce sex education in Classes IX and X and we have also accepted in principle not to introduce it in Classes XI and XII,” said the education minister, asked by Congress MLA Asit Mitra if the government had finalised its plans to introduce in schools lifestyle education — the term used for sex education in government correspondence.
“I doubt to what extent our society will permit us to teach adolescence issues to our students,” Basu added.
The minister said a committee had been set up to review the proposal for incorporating elements of such a course in Classes XI and XII.
According to the proposal, issues such as gender relations, adolescence problems, the correct attitude of students towards sex and how they should adjust with family members, teachers and friends, were to be taught to students.
The Council of Boards of School Education in India (COBSE), a national body of all education boards in the country, had in July proposed that all state governments introduce sex education for Classes IX to XII.
Basu’s announcement came as a surprise to the West Bengal Board of Secondary Education and West Bengal Council for Higher Secondary Education, which had apparently welcomed the move at a COBSE meeting in Delhi.
The COBSE had in its proposal said topics on sex education should be incorporated in subjects like biology, education, literature, sociology and psychology.
Several private schools in the city affiliated to Delhi boards said they offered sex education, though in an informal manner. “We have sex education workshops and seminars for the students. Doctors and counsellors address the children regularly to create awareness among them,” said Reeta Chatterjee, the principal of Apeejay Schools in Calcutta.
The education minister did not clarify what prompted the government to hold back the proposal. But a source in his department said a survey jointly conducted by the state and the Centre nearly two years ago in Bengal revealed that a number of teachers and guardians were opposed to the idea of including sex education in the school syllabi.
In the Left Front regime, the education department had tried to start sex education in schools but it did not work.