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Madrasas in Muslim Bangladesh Introduce Sex Education As Other Countries of Asia Still Shy Away From the Subject

By S. Arshad, New Age Islam

01 June 2019

During the last ten years or so, the issue of introducing sex education inschools has been largely debated and a consensus has yet not been reached on the issue. In 2007, the Indian government had launched sex education in schools but was opposed by a large section of the intellectuals and religious organisations. Even some political leaders had opposed it.

Sex education was taken off from Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh. The arguments presented in favour of sex education were that it will create awareness about sexual abuse of children and they will be aware of various problems relating to puberty and diseases like HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD).  It will also help the adolescents remove their misconceptions about the biological changes during puberty and will help them cope with the psychological problems faced by them. But those against it argued that sex education will expose them to sexual activity and will promote promiscuity among them destroying cultural and religious values of the country.

Pakistan also lags behind in introducing sex education. In 2018, after a couple of high-profile sex abuse cases, the Pakistan government decided to introduce sex education in schools and prepared a draft booklet that would be included in the school curriculum. But the plan is still to be realised.

But Bangladesh, a conservative Muslim country has taken lead in this direction. Sex education has been introduced in 350 schools in four districts. The introduction of sex education in schools is a part of a project called Generation Breakthrough. The sex education classes are called GEMS (Gender Equity Movement in Schools). Students of class Vi to X have been receiving sex education since 2014. The project was launched in 2014 for five years with the financial assistance from international donor agencies. The Project Director of Generation Breakthrough is Md Jahangir Hussain. He is very optimistic about the success of the project as he says that guardians and teachers have accepted the project very positively. However, he said that the projected faced resistance from teachers, guardians and some organisation of Dhaka, But the schools in rural and semi urban areas showed greater openness in accepting the project. Currently, the Fazilatunnisa Government High School in Dhaka is running GEMS classes successfully.  Both the boys and girls receive sex education together and discuss subjects like condom, menstruation, sexual hygiene, nightfall and reproductive organs etc through card and board game, computer illustrations and books.

The most striking fact of this development is that 5o madrasas have also joined this movement and introduced sex education in their curriculum. Md. Jahangir Hussain says that in fact, madrasas showed they were on the greener side on the topic and they showed a greater maturity. This may not be surprising due to the fact that the Quran and Hadith discuss sexual issues and so sex is not a taboo in Islam though the religious community has made Muslims to believe that it is. The Quran and Hadiths deal with sexual issues and the students and teachers of madrasas are aware of the injunctions of the Quran and Hadith on the subject. That’s why madrasas did not resist the project. In fact, the religious atmosphere of madrasas will be better for sex education as the students and teachers will not cross the line while discussing the subject.

The first phase of the project was for five years which has successfully ended in 2018. Jahangir Hussain says that the second phase will start soon and another 200 schools will be brought under the project. He also said that the sex education is imparted keeping in view the cultural values of the Muslim community. That’s why the guardians have showed acceptance.

S. Arshad is a regular columnist for


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