With the National Council for Teacher Education (NCTE) planning to introduce gender studies in teacher training modules so that students learn about gender equality, teachers have demanded they should also be trained to provide sex education classes.
Currently, schools in Maharashtra state government have not created a space for sex education in the curriculum. The Vilasrao Deshmukh government in 2007 and former education minister Vasant Purke in 2008 faced opposition while attempting to make sex education mandatory in schools.
Teachers now say it is time schools talked about it in the classrooms. Arguing that students are being exposed sexual content through social media, movies and television, they said it is time for the government to encourage schools to include sex education as part of the curriculum.
“We cannot keep children from knowing about sex. They hear about it from friends, know about it on social media and even experiment at a young age,” said Anil Bornare, a teacher from Swami Muktananda School, Chembur, and spokesperson for the state teachers association. “We need to talk to the students about it so that they can process the information in the right manner,” he said.
“Some schools do hold lectures for girls when they enter adolescence, but there are rarely any programmes for boys. Some schools, fearing repercussions from political parties and groups, do not talk to the children about this issue at all,” said Bornare.
Braving giggles and embarrassed stares from students, some schools have found interesting ways to talk about the subject. “We get doctors to talk to students as well as parents. We find parents are usually hesitant to talk to their own children about sex,” said Meera Isaacs, principal, Cathedral and John Connon School, Fort.
“We have a counsellor for every section and we have also provided boxes where students can write to them, anonymously if they wish. Merely proscribing sex-education is not the solution, teachers need to be trained too,” Issacs said.
Isaacs said that schools cannot afford to be tight-lipped about sex-education. “Children are exposed to so much sexual content online or on TV. Instead of being judgemental, it is our responsibility to make them aware,” she said.