Should we teach X in our schools in Y fashion ? This is one question that appears in our public discourse every now and then the parameters X and Y range widely from language to subjects to the content of the textbook.
There are two things that are fundamentally wrong with these type of questions.
1. Things that are taught in school are actually learned by students effectively.
2. That such question can be answered broadly as Yes or No.
For example Mathematics is being taught in school for last donkey years yet only a small % of students actually learn it. What % of students would learn it effectively varies from the quality of teachers, school, rural v/s urban, family atmosphere and so on.
There are simply too many parameters involved in assuming that something that is taught in school will be learned effectively or not by the students. Should a particular thing be taught or not in a school also depends on these factors.
So when we raise questions like “Will English as a medium of instruction help students of Goa or not?” we ignore that the question might be answered as “Yes” for some schools where as the answer would be clear “No” for some schools.
To give my own example, I have seen many students who have heard the English phrase “Correlation does not imply causation” but have failed to apply it altogether. I remember when I was in 8th standard my mathematics teacher said in the class “पावस पडल्यार आंगण ओले जाताच, पुण आंगण ओले आसा म्हणून पावस पडलाच अशे म्हणपाक जायना, बाबू मुतला आसपाक शकता”. If my teacher had said “Correlation does not imply causation” I would have never understood what that Konkani phrase conveyed to me.
Effective education is extremely subjective. The parameters are too complex. Government can always have a policy that might do better than existing policy by say 10%. But it will be far from optimal.
The optimal solution in such cases is invariably letting the people make then own decisions rather than government or society forcing a particular decision on them. It makes lot more sense for schools to totally decide what they will teach to whom and how while parents deciding which school they will send their child to.
For that to happen we need to break the monopoly that government has on education. It is unlikely to happen anytime soon.
Coming back to sex education
Probably because we were under British/Portuguese rule we have acquired the Victorian sense of morality when it comes to sex. That is to say that even Right Wing Hindu (RWH) organizations like RSS seem to have a Bibilical sense of morality when it comes to sex.
The kind of sexual behavior that our teenagers are going to have in coming few years will be drastically different from that of their parents and current generation of teachers. Letting the government appointed teachers to teach the teenagers about sex is like asking a Cave-Man undertake Computer Programming classes.
But irrespective of that the sex education and awareness about sexuality is very important. It should be up-to the parents to decide what kind of sex education their children should be subjected to.
Government would be the last thing I would trust to do the job of telling young minds about sexuality when government itself think that homosexuality is a crime. Are schools allowed to tell students that homosexuality is a perfectly okay ? I do not think so.
A better way would be for totally non-governmental organizations and doctors in the locality to organize short term learning/awareness programs for students. Something that Marathi Vigyan Parishad has been doing for a long time in Goa.
I think Dr. Harshvardhan is an idiot for the simple reason that being a health minister he thinks that he can talk about education system, that he think he or his government should allow or ban any type of education in schools. His statement that “sex education minus vulgarity” is outright silly.
NDA ministers should take Modi’s advice to avoid lose talk seriously.