The director and the additional director of general education — the chairman and convener respectively of the committee formed by the Kerala Government to create age-appropriate sexual awareness curriculum for schools — informed the High Court recently that steps are being taken to commence the classes from the next academic year.
While appearing online, they informed the HC that the committee held a meeting on February 23, 2023, and preliminary steps have already been commenced.
The director of general education further informed the court that further steps are being taken to include age-appropriate sexual awareness content as part of the curriculum to the extent possible.
The submissions were made in a matter which is essentially a bail application, but the Kerala High Court invoked its jurisdiction under Article 226 of the Constitution for issuing directions to the state government and CBSE to generate awareness among youngsters on the consequences of sexual offences and their ramifications.
The HC, on December 9, 2022, ordered the state government to constitute a committee to implement the directions of the court for creating a prevention-oriented programme on sexual abuse in schools.
The panel, which is chaired by the director of general education was formed and its two reports dated 17.02.2023 and 21.02.2023 referring to various measures suggested by the expert committee for implementation of the programme were presented before the court on February 22, 2023.
However, the high court was apprised by the counsel appearing on behalf of Kerala State Legal Services Authority (KELSA) that the reports were misleading as the committee so appointed had not even met once by then.
Taking note of this, the court came down heavily on the authorities and ordered the director of general education and the additional director of education to appear before it personally on February 27.
On February 27, the court was informed that the committee held a meeting on 23.02.2023 and preliminary steps had been taken.
With regard to the nature of the explanations offered and the steps already taken to include the sessions on sexual awareness in schools from the next academic year, the high court expressed its satisfaction.
However, the HC stressed that since the committee formed by the government intends to meet once in two weeks, the court shall continue to monitor the progress, in the exercise of the jurisdiction under Article 226.
Therefore, it posted the matter after two weeks on March 15, 2023, to be taken up again.
Moreover, taking note of KELSA’s significant role in the matter, the court directed the inclusion of a representative of the Victim Rights Centre, which is a project under KELSA, as a member of the committee.
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