In response to a question in Parliament, India's education ministry revealed that it is adding sex education to the curricula followed by most government-run schools, according to a Press Information Bureau statement.
Called the Adolescence Education Program (AEP), sex education will be offered at the secondary and higher secondary level, the release said. It is being implemented by Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), National Institute of Open Schooling (NIOS), Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan (KVS), Navodaya Vidyalaya Samiti (NVS) and several states and union territories.
But according to a written reply from Minister of State for Human Resource Development D. Purandeswari, the new addition to the curriculum focuses on "making students aware of the concerns of adolescence stages and dangers of HIV/AIDS and substance use; helping them to acquire necessary life skills to enable them to avoid risky situations; to take informed decisions and to develop healthy and responsible behavior."
A much-needed step in the right direction, given the pervasive ignorance about sexual health revealed by the doctors we interviewed for the recent GlobalPost video about dubious "sexologists", but it surely doesn't go far enough. Practical knowledge of birth control, and clear information about women's health during pregnancy is the need of the hour, given India's serious population problem and terrible infant mortality rate -- which stems in great part from simple cultural myths, such as the belief that breastfeeding during early pregnancy is "polluting," when in fact that is when vital antibodies are delivered to the infant.