Join this Group for Updates and Discussions on this Blog (and a few others)!

Google Groups Join

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Need for Sex Education according to Gandhiji

Yet again the Nation starts another debate on the relevance of sex education in schools. I recall the controversy in Tamilnadu two years back (Khusboo the actress who started off the debate then is again in the center of the storm yet again on the same subject I am told). Now the debate stems from the states of MP and Karnataka (and Punjab just after this blog was written). It is ironic that we continue to allow obscurantist politicians to make decisions on issues that ought to be made at the level of class teachers. Any school teacher will tell you today the need for sex education in schools, with the growing influence of all forms of media amongst the students even in remote parts of the country, there is a definite need for such an education. The problem perhaps stems because of the local cultural issues. If parents and elders at home do not permit nude pictures at home, how can it be permitted in the classroom? could be a genuine question from someone concerned. Perhaps one then has to look for answers from someone who understood the relevance of the issue and also had the highest regard for conserving the local traditions and cultures, Gandhiji.

It is interesting to note what Gandhiji had to say on this subject (strangely I found it among a rather short list of writings that the official Gandhi Samadhi website chose to display):

What place has ... instruction in sexual science in our educational system, or has it any place there at all? Sexual science is of. two kinds - that which is used for controlling or overcoming the sexual passion, and that which is used to stimulate and feel it. Instruction in the former is as necessary a part of child's education as the latter is harmful and dangerous and fit therefore only to be shunned. All great religions have rightly regarded kama as the arch-enemy of man, anger or hatred coming only in the second place. According to the Gita, the latter is an offspring of the former. The Gita, of course, uses the word kama in its wider sense of desire. But the same holds good of the narrow sense in which it is used here.

This, however, still leaves unanswered the question, i.e. whether it is desirable to impart to young pupils a knowledge about the use and function of generative organs. It seems to me that it is necessary to impart such knowledge to a certain extent. At present they are often left to pick up such knowledge anyhow with the result that they are misled into abusive practices. We cannot properly control or conquer the sexual passion by turning a blind eye to it. I am, therefore, strongly in favour of teaching young boys and girls, the significance and right use of their generative organs. And, in my own way, I have tried to impart this knowledge to young children of both sexes for whose training I was responsible.

Who should teach this true science of sex? Clearly, he who has attained mastery over his passions. To teach astronomy and kindred science we have teachers who have gone through a course of training in them and are masters of their art. Even so, we must have as teachers of sexual science, i.e. the science of sex-control, those who have studied it and have acquired mastery over self. Even a lofty utterance that has not the backing of sincerity and experience will be inert and lifeless, and will utterly fail to penetrate and quicken the hearts of men, while the speech that springs from self-realization and genuine experience is always fruitful.

That is Quintessential Gandhi for you! It gives a solution to the states that object to sex education on cultural lines. If we only had more content in education that was rooted in the local culture, many such subjects can be incidentally attended to without much ado. The problem stems out of our adopting a system of education where every sphere of knowledge has to pass through the lens of 'science', hence much of what needs to be taught with care and concern cannot be accommodated, the values of care and concern don't count for much in science.

Coincidence - just within couple of hours after posting this blog my news aggregator produced this news from Taiwan. Interesting to see the terms adopted by the ministers there, 'fostering correct attitude towards the opposite sex' is the objective and the course itself is called, 'courses in gender relations'. So much more sensitive.

No comments:

Read by Label