Talks on ‘Hathe Ape Potha’ on 21 Jan. in P’ment

Wednesday, 15 January 2020 00:11 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Decision to be made with presence of Education and Health Ministers

Members of the Sectoral Oversight Committee (SOC) on Education and SOC on Women and Gender unanimously recommend to take a decision on the Grade 7 textbook ‘Hathe Ape Potha’ with the presence of the Education and Health Ministers on 21 January at the Parliament.

The decision was made highlighting the importance of educating the students of the country regarding their sexual and reproductive health at a very early age as 12 at the joint committee meeting held on 9 January at the Parliament complex, a statement said. 

Emphasising on the importance of incorporating education on reproductive health among children, Committee Member and State Minister Lasantha Alagiyawanna stated that a decision regarding the future of the supplementary textbook ‘Hathe Ape Potha’ should be taken consulting the Minister of Education and the Minister of Health.

Committee Chair MP Dr. Thusitha Wijemanna opened the forum for discussion by stating children across the country are oblivious to the physical changes that takes place due to puberty as they lack a forum to openly discuss the aforesaid particulars. Furthermore, it was highlighted that the lack of knowledge among children on the matter is one of the main causes leading towards child abuse, increasing numbers of child pregnancies and abortions.

It was pointed out that the distribution of the Grade 7 textbook ‘Hathe Ape Potha’, which is contemporarily in debate as a controversial sex education book recalled by the Educational Publications Department, was the outcome of discussions held from 2016 with the positive hopes of educating the student community and was a publication introduced collaboratively by the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education.

Expressing views, Western Province Chief Sanganayaka and University of Ruhuna Chancellor Ven. Dr. Akuratiye Nanda Thero stated that there are many incidents being reported where children are being abused and misguided given the lack of knowledge regarding the topic in discussion. Having read the contents of the textbook subjected to controversy, the Thero stated that there are no inappropriate particulars included in the book.

An unsophisticated cultural sphere to openly discuss such topics and the lack of skill among adults and teachers to educate children on this regard was highlighted as key challenges in the distribution of the supplementary textbook though such topics related to sexual and reproductive health have constantly been constantly included into the school curriculum and textbooks.

Further discussions regarding the measures to be taken for the reconvening of the distribution of the Grade 7 textbook ‘Hathe Ape Potha’ and the importance of incorporating it into the school curriculum with the recommendations and expertise of Child and adolescent psychiatry was scheduled for 21 January at the Parliament. The Committee chaired by Dr. Thusitha Wijemanna was held with the presence of MPs Lasantha Alagiyawanna, Rohini Kumari Wijerathna, Prof. Ashu Marasinghe, Bimal Rathnayke and officials from the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Health, The Family Health Bureau, National Child Protection Authority, and representatives of the clergy.