Not sex education, but life skills: DSERT

The manual on adolescent education to be introduced in high schools in the next academic year will not be called ‘sex education’ but will be introduced as ‘life skills education,’ the Department of State Research, Education and Training (DSERT) has said.

The manual, which will focus on creating awareness among students about effectively handling the adolescent period, will not have any obscene material or contain any overt images, the DSERT officials said.

The life skills education manual, which is prepared for classes VIII, IX and X, strives to provide value-based education. It includes awareness about the self, understanding the body and learning to cope with emotions.

The manual, which is the result of six years of research, ensures that the content does not hurt anybody’s sensibilities, the officials added, allaying scepticism about the move.
In 2002, a textbook on adolescent education was introduced in schools by the National Aids Control Organisation (NACO) which prescribed usage of flip charts and contained photographic images of reproductive organs, which did not go well with many, as they found it ‘overt’.

Taking note of the objections, the curriculum was revised leaving no room for obscenity.
The manual titled ‘Jeevana Kaushala’ discusses issues ranging from anger management, building self-confidence, decision making skills to awareness about Sexually Transmitted Disease, hormonal changes and changes in the physical appearance during adolescence.

Adolescent issues
For instance, one of the chapters in the manual  highlights how physical appearance gains importance during adolescence. Another chapter deals with the attraction that one develops for the opposite gender. It explains the process and encourages students to not suppress such emotions as it is a part of growing up.

Apart from these, the manual has chapters that introduce child sexual abuse, its effects, measures to be taken to protect children from child sexual abuse and also elaborates on reasons for child trafficking.  In order to equip students with various legal aspects, a brief introduction is given on Domestic Violence Act, the Pre-Natal Diagnostic Techniques Act, Dowry Prohibition Act, among other laws.

The manual delineates 10 skills to be inculcated among students as prescribed by the World Health Organisation. This includes critical thinking, creative thinking, decision making, problem solving and interpersonal relationship among others.
Adolescent pressure, parental pressure, peer pressure and media pressure have also been discussed in detail.

“Creating awareness about Aids is not possible unless the students are equipped with anatomical details. As a result, diagrams are used but care has been taken to ensure that they are not provocative,” said Subramanya Kumbara, a biology teacher at Srirampuram Govt PU College and editor of the Jeevan Kaushala manual.

Moreover, the teachers will explain based on the instructions in the manual. The manual, however, will not be handed over to the students, he clarified.
Easy and unregulated access to the internet and communication gap with the parents have accentuated adolescent problems.

Many children display suicidal tendencies unable to express and deal with their emotions. The manual will strengthen the emotional quotient of students, said Geetha, a retired teacher, who helped in the preparation of the
manual.

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