Indian Textbooks May Start Naming Genitalia
In an initiative to spread awareness and prevent child abuse and sexual assault, the National Council of Education Research and Training (NCERT) is considering revising textbooks for young children to include labeled male and female genital organs, reports The Indian Express.
This proposal arose following a study conducted by the Mahatma Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (MGIMS) in Wardha, which analyzed textbooks used by Grade I and II children and found that labeling of human body parts excluded the genital organs.
Textbooks contained a diagram of a naked boy, who had his nose, hands and knees labeled, but the genitals covered. Final-year MBBS student Savitri Devi, who was involved in the study, further showed that NCERT textbooks introduced labeling of male genitalia in Class VII and female genital organs in Class X. This means students are only introduced to male genitals around ages 12-13 and female genitals at ages 15-16.
MGIMS’s analysis covered textbooks from Class I to VII, and from various boards across the country, including the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), Delhi, and the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examination (CISCE-ICSE) boards. They found that Tamil Nadu was the only Indian state that information about how to report child sexual abuse in its curriculum.
Dr. Indrajit Khandekar, who was part of the forensic medicine department at MGIMS that carried out the study, explained that minor victims of sexual abuse were at a loss when it came to identifying and naming body parts when describing an assault.
“They give vague references to private parts. It is necessary to educate children at an early age,” he said. By educating students about our body parts, it may help increase the cases being reported, he added.
“We will place the proposal before the textbook development committee whenever there is a revision. Whatever the committee decides, will be the final revision. So far, we have not decided which class will need a revision,” Professor Saroj Yadav, Dean (Academics) at NCERT told The Indian Express.
If it passes, this proposal may be a small step in creating much needed awareness in young children about recognizing and reporting sexual abuse. Making human reproduction an essential part of a school curriculum can only help children develop safe, equitable, and healthy understandings of human sexual behavior.