By: Sameer Mandhro
JOHI: Eight schools run by the Village Shadabad Organisation in Johi taluka are imparting education on the rights of the body. In these schools, teachers take out two hours every week to teach minor students about sex education.
The students of grade one and two are taught through flash cards while for other students, teachers use textbooks. The language used in this special subject is in Urdu.
Don’t go alone. Beware of strangers. It’s your body and you should keep it safe. Cry when an abuser catches you alone and if your cries don’t work, bite them and run away – these are some of the ideas students of Johi taluka, Dadu district, are being taught.
The teachers and students believe the special subject will make a difference. The teachers also involve mothers in the subject to inform them about the issues being faced by their children and how they interact with relatives and strangers.
“The problem does exist but we don’t care. If an adult can’t resist due to lack of information, how can we expect a minor to fight back?” asked a teacher, Shehar Bano.
Teachers believe students have shown a keen interest in the subject. “On this particular subject, students talks about their own feelings and issues,” briefed Sanam Soomro, the head of the Shadabad Girls Elementary School in Gohram Panhwar village – some eight kilometres from Johi town.
Out of 251 students enrolled, 91 are girls from grade one to grade eight. The school covers 14 villages located in the vicinity.
“It has improved the level of confidence of students,” commented another teacher, Shehnaz Panhwar. “They share problems which one can’t imagine.”
Abida Soomro, who teaches students of grade two with flash cards, said that the understanding should not be limited to educating students about their private parts and basic information about their rights but the teachers should ask them to narrate their ordeals, if any. “I can feel one’s intention. I know how to protect myself,” said a student of grade four, Soomal. “It is good to learn about these things.”
Soomal’s teacher, Shabana Mallah, said, “Having your cheeks or any part of the body for that matter touched is sometimes very harmful but minors don’t realise it. Our students can now understand if someone has bad intentions.”
The teachers briefed The Express Tribune that the students are taught to look after their bodies and avoid any unpleasant situation. “It is easy to ask girls about their problems but hard to teach boys,” said Soomro.
VSO president Akbar Lashari said that the students have been receiving education for the last one year. “It is not easy to teach students in rural areas.” Lashari said that neither his teachers nor the office bearers of his organisation had ever received any complaints from the parents. “I think the parents understand the importance of such precautionary measures.”
It is not only the schools in Johi that teach students about the rights of their body but 50 schools of Khairpur and Jamshoro districts are also imparting this education.
The Indus Resource Centre (IRC) has developed three levels of curriculums – from grade three to five, from grade six to eight and from grade nine to 10.
“Textbooks alone do not improve mental capacity. It is the basic human right and students must learn about their own rights,” commented Haider Shar, the project director of Improving Sexual Reproductive Health Pro Life Skill Based Education Among Girls. Shar said that the IRC was the first organisation which initiated this type of education in 2010. He said that the first phase started in Gambat and Sobho Dero in Khairpur district.