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Never proposed ban on sex education, says Harsh Vardhan

A day after Union Minister for Health Harsh Vardhan (pictured) came under attack over his views on sex education in schools, he clarified on Friday that the views expressed on his website are “entirely his own” and made in the context of the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s 2007 decision to introduce the Adolescence Education Programme in its original form.

“Even the chief ministers of UPA-ruled states had objected to it and subsequently, it was modified,” he said in a statement released by the health ministry.

Vardhan is currently on an official visit to the US. While expressing his views on education on his website, Vardhan has listed  “sex education” to be “banned” under the head “programme of action”. Vardhan was the Bharatiya Janata Party’s chief ministerial candidate in Delhi during the 2013 Assembly elections. Even after he assumed charge as Union health minister, many believed he continued to be in the race for the Delhi government’s top job.

However, dismissing reports that he has proposed a ban on sex education, Vardhan said, “I am a medical professional who has embraced rationalism and I whole-heartedly support pedagogy that is scientific and culturally acceptable. Anything abrasive to common sensibilities and articulated as such by responsible persons should be discarded and replaced by consensually accepted learning processes.”

Vardhan said as the chief ministerial candidate of his party in the 2013 elections, he had full right to make transparent his agenda for education among other subjects of governance.

Value-based school learning processes are common in all countries and he had intended implementing such a format in Delhi’s schools, he said.

“Crudity and graphic representation of culturally objectionable symbols as manifested in the UPA’s so- called sex education programme cannot be called sex education. Every education system must strive to have an ideal curriculum and to that extent, my stand is valid,” he said.

“Sex education that builds societies free of gender discrimination, teenage pregnancy, HIV-AIDS proliferation, pornography addiction etc. should be the goal,” he added.

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