NACO releases revised sex education manual

It has taken two years for the National Aids Control Organization or NACO to bring out a revised sex education manual after major flaws were reported in the earlier one. But despite the long delayed revisions huge shortcomings still remain.

Sakshi Sharma a student of Delhi’s Veer Savarkar Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya has just turned fourteen and like many of her classmates has questions about sex.

She thinks the internet may help her with sex education chapters that the government wants to introduce in schools by the end of this year.

"Since the diagrams have been deleted, we may have to depend upon external sources for information. But there, nobody will be able to tell us what is right or wrong," said Sakshi.

Sonia Sarkar, for NDTV.com

Detailed diagrams and flip charts were all part of the original manual developed for sex education by the National Aids Control Organization. But states like Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra objected and a watered-down version has been prepared over two years. It’s now posted on the net at nacoonline.org for feedback from parents, students and teachers.

But those who have been involved in revising the sex education manual say that it’s best to introduce the subject slowly.

"Earlier, the content was explicit and needed revision. This revised version is culturally acceptable," said Jitendra Nagpal, member, sub-committeee, NACO.

But the reviews to the online draft are harsh.

"Students need to be told about basic sexual acts like sexual intercourse and masturbation," said Veena Batra, principal, Veer Savarkar Sarvodaya Kanya Vidyalaya.

While the NACO manual is being drafted Delhi’s government schools are making do with a sex education manual prepared by local experts. Diagrams describing the anatomy of man and woman are missing from this book as well. So for now teenagers say they rely upon each other for information which is a dangerous trend for a city where sexual awareness is setting in earlier.

"It has been seen that children get exposed to sex and sexuality through internet and other sources from the age of 12, 13 onwards. The exposure is more in public schools but the government school children too are equally exposed to this. So, it is necessary that they are provided with basic and right information on this," said Dr Rajesh Sagar, psychiatrist, AIIMS.

Correct information is critical at a time when Delhi reported 15,970 HIV/AIDS cases last year. Of them 27.9 per cent or nearly 4,500 victims are between 15 and 29 years. More alarmingly, 1000 out of the 2000 new HIV/AIDS victims each year belong to this age group.



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