The Curriculum Committee of the Kerala General Education Department has approved the Adolescence Health Education Programme and decided to introduce it in Class IX and X, although the CBSE has put it on hold in CBSE schools. How do parents, teachers and students see the programme? Our readers respond:

High time

Growing up is a pleasant but stressful experience. Often the adolescent is ill-equipped to appreciate the sudden mental and physical changes. Most of the physical and psychological problems that a person experiences can be traced to this phase. But the policy makers have not come up with a systematic approach to tackle these issues. So, there is definitely a case for a well-planned programme for imparting health education to the adolescents. Academic bodies and experts must be roped in to prepare the curriculum, which must include the body’s growth and the fundamentals of sexual development. A discussion with parents and religious leaders may be undertaken to dispel their apprehensions.

Dr. P.N.N. Pisharody

Karunagappally

Not a taboo

Teenage is a turbulent age. Youngsters are curious about the rapid changes in their body. Parents may not be able to give proper guidance. In this context, it is a wise and worthy decision by the government. It will also accomplish the prime aim of education -- to create robust young ones who will carry the nation forward. A few parents might not be happy with the move, since they consider the subject taboo. So, public awareness is mandatory for this programme’s success.

N. Ramachandran

Vakkom

Path-breaking

Adolescence is a critical period when teenagers need support to cope with the rapid physiological changes and emotional insecurity. There are many cultural barriers to open discussions on biological sciences at homes. Will it not be better if the schooling system provides them with authentic and scientific information of matters related to sexuality and reproduction instead of their acquiring inaccurate and incomplete knowledge from dubious sources?

Children, especially girls, need to be protected against abuse and exploitation. To begin with separate classes may be held for boys and girls.

Training should be imparted to teachers by professionals. If teachers feel uncomfortable, doctors, psychiatrists, psychologists and other experts can be engaged for the purpose.

Aspects like unwanted pregnancies, contraception and HIV/AIDS, etc should be explained. The debate should not be whether to have such a programme — it should be on how and what to teach. Periodic monitoring based on feedback from parents, teachers and students are essential to ensure the programme’s success.

If handled sensitively, the programme can be a path-breaking exercise which will help our children manage the transition from adolescence to adulthood in a responsible manner.

V.N. Mukundarajan

Thiruvananthapuram

Critical learning

The pre-adult hood stage of man is very critical. Adolescent education therefore should be a combination of moral principles and the science of procreation.

In our country it was till recently not easy for a youngster to know one’s body and mind in the correct perspective. Sex education should definitely be made part of the curriculum.

C.R. Reghunathan

Pathanamthitta

Holistic approach vital

Adolescence, in our country, gained a very late recognition. There is rapid physical growth, sexual, psychological and emotional changes in a person during this period. Adolescents form 22 per cent of the country’s population. Still, what they learn in schools is found to be highly wanting at several times. The youngsters need to be made aware of the ways to stay calm in stressful times.

Moreover, the issue is very complex and it needs a comprehensive and holistic approach. Mood swings, sexual desires, etc have a telling effect on the youngsters during this period.

Educational institutions should plan and hold separate sessions for boys and girls as it would give them an opportunity to openly discuss their problems with teachers. So, this initiative by the government is a bold move and is certainly in the right direction.

It is silly to think that such education only promotes a western lifestyle. Let us not forget that the ‘parallel education’ that the students gain through other sources do more harm than good. Let us hope that the initiative does not go down the drain.

Anup C. Unnithan

E mail

Guidance essential

Adolescence is the most vital period in the evolution of the individual. In this crucial turn of one’s life, rational and scientific guidance is highly essential. In the light of these, the initiative of the curriculum committee of the Kerala General Education Department to introduce Adolescence Health Education Programme (AHEP) deserves acclaim and approval.

Proper sex education can help children from veering into unhealthy practices and ways. The parents will view the measure as a welcome relief.

N. Sadasivan Pillai

Modinabad (AP)

Help the children

Children should be helped during their days of turbulence. If proper guidance is provided, many problems can be avoided. The government’s move to introduce adolescence health education is truly welcome and it should be implemented in earnest.

Maju Balakrishnan

Thiruvananthapuram

Take the lead

The decision of the curriculum committee of the Kerala General Education Department to introduce the Adolescence Health Education Programme in class IX and X is welcome. That the CBSE has put it on hold is no reason that we should not implement it. What is wrong if we take the lead? Our children are now exposed to half knowledge and bad knowledge that is harmful. So it is better that we give them the right knowledge.

A. Jacob Sahayam

Thiruvanathapuram

Proper guidance

The adolescent education programme is not without merit. It should have been introduced long ago. Our children need proper guidance so that they can tide over the crisis period of their lives. Objections to the proposal are not on proper grounds. If such education is not imparted in a proper way, children learn it the wrong way leading to more problems.

K.P. Karunakaran Nair

Thiruvananthapuram

Society should act

Let us welcome the step taken by the curriculum committee of the General Education Department. All human beings are bound by certain values. Promiscuity was thus naturally restrained. Today, due to the influence of western culture and globalisation, there is all-round deterioration in our values. Unmarried couples’ staying together as live-in partners is not news. Dangerous diseases like AIDS are spreading.

In Western countries, if a boy or a girl does not start dating after a point of time, their parents suspect something abnormal.

Society cannot remain a silent spectator.

We should educate our children about healthy sexual practices.

With proper adolescent education, the spread of deadly diseases such as AIDS can also be curbed.

Let us do whatever is necessary to make our young adults grow up as responsible citizens.

They are the country’s future assets. Proper sex education received from an authentic source is definitely better than learning it from friends.

Ambalath Aboobakar

Thrissur

Reduced risk

The Kerala government has taken a bold decision to introduce adolescence health programme in school curriculum. Adolescence is a period of transition. Physically and emotionally, it is the most vulnerable period in a child’s life. Hormonal changes bring about anxieties, stress and depression. Introducing the programme will give them a better understanding of their body and its functions. Those who fear that such a course might be detrimental to a teenager should not forget that they now have access to porn sites and channels from where they get wrong notions about sex and sexuality. Proper education will give them correct information regarding sex and health issues. This will in turn reduce the risk of teenagers getting sexually exploited.

Archana V.

Kollam

A hornets’ nest

The curriculum committee of the Kerala General Education Department will be stirring up a hornets’ nest with its Adolescence Health Education Programme, proposed to be introduced in classes IX and X. The committee has cleverly chosen to avoid the common nomenclature, sex education.

A similar move by the CBSE had come under fire from different quarters in the recent past. The concept is commendable.

Even now teachers in schools deal with the topic’s periphery.

Instead of introducing it as part of the curriculum, the purpose can be attained otherwise. Competent persons should be invited to hold awareness classes/seminars on the subject. Authentic books should be kept in the library. It is a fact that students have easy access to pornographic CDs and literature which can mislead them. Teachers as well as parents should also be prepared to discuss topics with students.

AIDS awareness classes wrongly promote the use of condoms. Classroom learning of such matters may also encourage open courtships and flirting on the campus.

N.K. Vijayan

Kochi

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