One of the most significant findings of the Hindustan Times - C-fore sex education survey - is that the majority of educated parents in five metro cities, i.e., Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, share an equal enthusiasm for sex education in schools. Most are in favour of a comprehensive curriculum that includes safe sex and contraception.
The number of people who oppose sex education is in a minority everywhere (the highest 32 per cent is in Kolkata and the lowest, 9 per cent, is in Mumbai). Those who believe our children already know enough about sex are clearly in a minority in all the five metros.
The sharpest difference of opinion among the supporters of classroom lessons is on the separate needs of boys and girls. Forty per cent respondents think boys and girls in co-ed schools should be taught everything together while an almost equal number (42 per cent) believe that they should be taught separately. The finding is consistent with the fears of some parents (18 per cent) that a liberal approach might encourage girls and boys to discuss sex openly in their classrooms, resulting in blasé attitudes.
Most parents prefer classroom lessons to education at home, but about 60 per cent believe we could improve our courses, train our teachers better and work towards a nationwide consensus.
Among the 20 per cent opponents, the Delhites are the most anxious about corrupting young minds or about teenage pregnancies, but this is offset by the fact that a clear 78 per cent people in the national capital are in favour of sex education.
Chennai has the highest number of people (41 per cent of naysayers) who believe sex education is against Indian culture but that number is the lowest (only 4 per cent) in Delhi and in a clear minority everywhere else.