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Protests stall sex education

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OUR SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT   |   Mumbai   |   Published 23.04.08, 12:00 AM

Mumbai, April 23: The Maharashtra government’s move to revive a proposal to introduce sex education in higher secondary classes received a jolt today when Speaker Babasaheb Kupekar stayed the decision following strong protests by Opposition parties in the Assembly.

The stay came a day after state education minister Vasant Purke announced in the legislative council that sex education would be reintroduced in Classes IX and XI of Maharashtra educational board schools.

This is the second time that a move to introduce sex education in schools has been put on hold within a year.

Kupekar directed that the decision to introduce sex education should be stayed until a special committee consisting of experts in the field, social activists and legislators discusses the issue and gives its final decision. “No action should be taken on this (sex education proposal) till a committee comprising subject experts and legislators discusses all aspects,” the Speaker said.

Kupekar’s directive came after some members from the Opposition as well as ruling parties objected to Purke’s announcement made only in the legislative council and moved an adjournment motion on the issue.

Terming it an “irrational decision”, leader of Opposition Ramdas Kadam of the Shiv Sena said: “If the government takes such controversial decisions, then parents will have to decide whether to send their children to schools at all.”

The sex education syllabus is part of the National Adolescent Education Programme, drafted by the central human resource development ministry.

It has run into trouble in several other states for the use of allegedly explicit and graphic content in the sex education handbooks. Following protests, a watered down version of the handbook was created.

In March, 2007, five Shiv Sena, BJP and Congress legislators — four of them women — had moved a calling attention motion against making sex education mandatory for CBSE Class VI.

“Inclusion of obscene pictures about sex education is against Indian culture, and is likely to corrupt the young generation…. Despite states like Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat banning sex education in schools, the Maharashtra government has ignored the long term and serious implications of the move, and tried to include sex education in the curriculum,” the motion notice moved then had said.

Their objection was to explicit graphics and illustrations in a handbook for teachers published by an American publisher.

Following prolonged pandemonium in the House, then state education minister Hassan Mushrif had announced the ban on sex education.

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