Project X to impart sex education to Kerala school students from July 25

Unlike most programmes, Project X aims to give a broader perspective on human sexuality 
For representational purpose
For representational purpose

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: In a pioneering initiative, the district administration, the general education department, a non-governmental organisation (NGO), and a private company have collaborated to introduce comprehensive sexuality education, a sex education instruction method, in schools through ‘Project  X’ in Thiruvananthapuram.

This groundbreaking project will reach 5,000 students studying in classes 8, 9, and Plus One across 50 public and aided schools this year. The inauguration of Project X will take place at the Government Higher Secondary School, Cotton Hill, with Director of General Education  Shanavas S as the chief guest and District Collector Geromic George presiding over the function. Renowned singer G Venugopal will also be present at the event. 

Project X involves a two-hour session for 100 students from each school. It stands out for its unique approach to addressing the unmet needs of students and parents. Unlike most programmes that limit sex education to biological aspects, Project X aims to provide a broader perspective on human sexuality. 

“Under Project X, we plan to cover a wide range of topics related to human sexuality, including anatomy and physiology, relationships, sexual orientation, gender identity, contraception, sexually-transmitted diseases, consent, and healthy decision making," Anson P D Alexander, director of Kanal Innovations, said.

NGO Kanal Innovations has been working in this field since 2017, conducting sessions for 40,000  students. The decision to implement such a programme at the school level was based on learnings from these sessions and an independent study conducted by Kanal. 

Anson further explained, “Even college-level students are largely unaware of the scientific knowledge involving their bodies and sex education. Consequently, many of them are not even aware that they experienced sexual abuse in childhood. Hence, we decided to start this education from schools itself.”
The primary goal of Project X is to build positive attitudes among students by providing them with scientific information and empowering them to resist child abuse. The curriculum, developed in collaboration with UNICEF, utilises affirmative language and is inclusive of gender diversity. To ensure clarity among children, the trainers will use terms like ‘safe touch’ and ‘unsafe touch’ instead of ‘good touch’ and ‘bad  touch.’   

Kanal has received overwhelming support from schools, parents, and the government for its efforts. They have also conducted sessions in private schools across the state based on parents’ demands. 
The district administration, led by young civil servants, has readily agreed to cover 50% of the project’s cost, with the remaining expenses borne by Guidehouse, a consultancy company.

Prince Abraham, associate director of Guidehouse, will receive a handbook for students during the inaugural function. Kanal has ambitious plans to expand Project X to other schools next year, furthering its mission to provide comprehensive sexuality education and promote a safe and informed environment for students. 

Project X
Comprehensive sexuality education to 5,000 students in 50 schools
2 hour session for 100 students in a school
Offers scientific information on sex, reproduction, law, gender, interpersonal relationship, physical and mental health
Curriculum developed with the support of UNICEF

Challenges in sexuality education (source: Kanal)
Only 0.5 -1% of students received comprehensive sexuality education
Only 10-12% of students received basic sex education from their families
Low parental awareness of sex education
62.8% of parents do not discuss sex education with their child
Children unable to understand that they were sexually abused
Children learn unscientific information about sex from other sources

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