India’s NACO To Establish Task Force To Review Sex Education, Director-General Says
India's National AIDS Control Organization soon will establish a task force to review a national sex education module following recent protests in some states over the nature of the materials, NACO Director-General Sujatha Rao said recently, The Hindu reports. The module was developed by NACO and UNAIDS, according to The Hindu (The Hindu, 7/18). India's government wants the country's 29 states and seven federally administered regions to fight the spread of HIV by promoting knowledge about safer-sex practices. The attempts have caused a debate between some educators who say that sex education will reduce the spread of HIV and opponents who say it will corrupt young people. The governments of Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra have banned sex education in public schools, saying that the education modules are too explicit and that some photographs are too graphic. The southern states of Karnataka and Kerala also are considering bans, and Chhattisgarh will not implement a sex education curriculum. Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss earlier this month voiced his support for a national plan to introduce sex education in schools and urged states that oppose the plan to change their stances (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 7/12).
Rao -- speaking at the launch of the National Women Forum, which is part of the Indian Network for People Living With HIV/AIDS -- said that the task force will include academics, officials from the Ministry of Human Resources, the Vidyasagar Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences and some advocates. She added that the task force will be asked to submit a report in six months. "It is disturbing that states are banning sex education, but we want to have a consensus on the issue," Rao said, adding, "There is no harm about taking a second opinion on our module, but we want a clear message to go across." According to Rao, the "explicit" material is intended for teachers rather than students (The Hindu, 7/18).