All children from the age of 12 in Maharashtra’s residential tribal boarding schools will soon be given regular lessons on the subjects of sex and reproductive health. Children will also be imparted lessons on gender sensitivity, pregnancy, and personal hygiene. In what is perhaps the biggest government promoted sex education initiative in the country, the Maharashtra government has joined hands with Unicef to reach tribal children enrolled in 543 government-run ashram schools in the state. Maharashtra’s Tribal Minister Vishnu Savara announced the initiative on Monday. About 1 lakh students are to benefit from it, said tribal department secretary Manisha Verma.
“Once a child is enrolled in a residential school, he remains there till the completion of his education. Since lessons on reproductive health and gender science are not a part of the school curriculum, they are often not freely discussed. The programme is designed at sensitising the youngsters on sexual anatomy and gender issues,” said a senior official. Read | Meanwhile, class X: In Punjab, a village school reflects on fall from grace, click here
A team of experts has designed a customised module to impart the training. Under the module, a team of ‘master’ trainers will first train 3,258 teachers and superintendents in these residential schools, who will then pass on the knowledge to students, said Verma.
The programme will be rolled out from June 12 when the first round of training will take place for the teachers and the superintendents. Besides sex education, lessons on personal and community hygiene, the importance of nutrition, and first-aid will also be taught to the students.
Children from class VI to class XII in these residential schools will be taught under the programme, said Verma. She added that a pilot project, carried out in Palghar district last year, had been successful.
The government initiative is being appreciated since complaints of sexual exploitation of children had emanated from some boarding schools in the recent past.
Meanwhile, Savara announced that his department had entered into Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with leading institutions, including the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, the Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy, the Dr Babasaheb Ambedkar Research and Training Institute, the National Stock Exchange, and the Urvi Piramal Foundation for capacity and infrastructure building measures in tribal boarding schools.