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7 August 2008
New Delhi, India

Aug 7 (IANS) Terming the National Aids Control Organisation’s (NACO) draft sex education module as ‘Inadequate’, health activists Thursday said the government must shed its morality and elaborate unsafe sexual practices to create awareness among young students.

‘The thrust of the NACO curriculum for school students is abstinence. It is silent about sexual intercourse, unsafe sex, and other biological aspect of reproduction’, said Radhika Chandiramani of the voluntary organisation Tarshi.

‘The NACO material for students strengthens the sense of shame and fear that surrounds sex and sexuality. Not talking about the subject intensifies the taboo. The draft curriculum has failed to enable young people to choose between saying yes and no’, Chandiramani told reporters.

Shalini Joshi of the NGO Nirantar said that the agenda of HIV/AIDS prevention would not be served by an approach to promote abstinence. ‘A moralistic approach will not succeed in bringing about behaviour change’.

Terming the curriculum as inadequate, the activists said despite citing the fact that 86 percent of HIV/AIDS cases in India are sexually transmitted, the draft module provides little information on ‘How sexual transmission occurs and how to protect oneself against it’.

‘It is very difficult to explain how HIV is transmitted if one does not explain what sex is in the first place’, said Anuja Gupta of Rahi Foundation.

NACO director general K. Sujatha Rao has said that there will be no mention of condom or safe sex in the revised module on life-skill education programme.

‘But we will be focusing on the aspirations of the youngsters and will also talk about being faithful to one’s partner and abstinence. There should be no hypocrisy on the subject’, Rao had said.

The decision to introduce sex education in India’s schools was aimed primarily at creating awareness about HIV/AIDS as the country is home to 2.5 million such patients.

Activists argued that the draft module makes a ‘False assumption’ about giving proper sex education to the school students. The curriculum violates basic principles of education.

‘Education is meant to enable learners to critically understand their realities and to make informed decisions. But here is a curriculum that speaks of moral and abstinence. This is very impractical’, said Chandiramani.

They said proper information about sex and sexual behaviour will not only reduce HIV/AIDS risks but also cut down teenage pregnancy.

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