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Teachers say no to added burden

By Our Staff Reporter

NEW DELHI, DEC. 21. They may carry the onus of changing mind-sets and routing knowledge through the right channels, but the Capital's school teachers are clearly not too enthusiastic about carrying the "load" of the country's population and declining child sex ratio problem to the classroom.

Even as the Population Foundation of India and Plan India turned towards the "young" for intensifying their campaign against female foeticide, they seemed to have come across an unexpected glitch -- lack of enthusiasm among teachers on incorporation of such subjects into the school curriculum.

At an advocacy workshop organised here on Tuesday by the Foundation in collaboration with Plan India on sex selection and pre-birth elimination of females, "heavy" curriculum load was cited as one of the reasons teachers did not want population education to be part of classroom teaching, some pointed out rather candidly that population was an issue that could only be solved with the help of a "danda'', while others suggested introduction of religious and moral education to help pass on the message to students. There were, of course, also some who felt since students could do little about population control or about sex selection in their family, there was no point in making it part of their curriculum.

The Population Foundation of India, however, is sure that involving the young in the campaign is the only way of ensuring that the issue stays in focus. While pointing out that this was only the beginning, senior adviser of the Foundation, Almas Ali, said, "This is only the first step. Our focus now is to sensitise teachers about the declining child sex ratio and other gender issues, as they play an important role in passing on the message.''

Although in full support of the campaign, most teachers here were convinced that the subject should be taught as part of extra curricular activities, as most of them are busy trying to finish their syllabus and ensure good results.

"We already have so much to teach that most teachers go to their classrooms hoping for a good result. Adding these subjects to the curriculum will hardly solve the problem. They should be introduced as part of students extra curricular activities,'' said a teacher present at the workshop.

The issue of registration of pregnancy was raised at the workshop by the Foundation, which it said could act as an effective tool for keeping a tab on sex selective abortions and preventing female foeticide as nearly 50 per cent births go unregistered in the country.

Speaking on the occasion, National Educational Research and Training (NCERT) Adviser, Population Education Cell, Dr. D.S. Muley, cited the example of China that faces a similar problem of low sex ratio but has been using education and empowerment of women to deal with the issue. While Tuesday's workshop was held with Government and Government aided schools, the next session would be held for public schools.

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