There may be enough evidence that teenagers and young adults are having sex — consider the Noida multimedia messaging service scandal.Countless surveys may have shown the human immunodeficiency virus is spreading fast.
There may also be undeniable proof that children unaware of the facts of life are suffering sexual abuse.
All this and more evidence may be mounting, but the state government is still debating whether the young members of our society really need sex education.
In March 2007, the state government banned sex education. Then, in April 2008, the education minister at the time, Vasant Purke, announced sex education would be made compulsory for Class 9 and Class 11 students.
There was a furore in the Assembly and a day later politicians ordered the setting up of a committee to look into the issue.
It took the education ministry seven months to pass a government resolution forming the committee to look into the need for sex education and prepare a report. If the state decides to implement sex education, the committee will also frame the curriculum.
The government resolution dated November 17, 2008, names 21 Vidhan Sabha and Vidhan Parishad members, including Purke and assembly opposition leader Ramdas Kadam, as members of the committee. It also names 15 “experts”, which includes educationists and social workers from across the state.
“If I had my way, sex education would have been introduced by now,” Purke said. “But there was too much opposition.” Purke, who was still education minister when the resolution was issued, blamed the process of selection of members for the time it took to form the committee.
After all this, the resolution does not even mention when the committee is supposed to submit its report. And so far there has been only one meeting, of the “experts” group in the committee on February 10 in Pune. Only eight members turned up.
State Education Director M.R. Kadam, who has been put in charge of the committee, said it was planned to hold a meeting earlier, but was postponed because of the November 26 terror attack on the city. He added that the ministers would decide the deadline of the report.
The committee has sexologist Dr Vithal Prabhu, paediatrician Dr Sandhya Khadse, Professor Chhaya Bakare of Ruia College and several “sex educators” attached to NGOs in Kolhapur, Vardha, Latur and other places.
Social activists are questioning why some distinguished people, especially qualified sexologists, were left out of the experts’ committee.
“Dr Mohan Deshpande and Dr Anant Sathe of Pune should have been on the committee. Dr Sathe is a sex education pioneer,” gender-rights activist Harish Sadani said.