Amid concerns of safety of children in schools, the NCERT, the prime textbook publisher for the government, has said from 2018 their school textbooks will contain a last page on ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’.
The question India’s publishing industry should be asking itself today is, can private school-text publishers seize the initiative and also do something similar? Especially keeping in mind the Nielsen Book Market report 2016 which has said, ‘purchases of K-12 school books are estimated to account for some 71 per cent of the market’ which means 71 per cent of the industry survive on educational publishing for 260 million school students. There is no doubt, the need of the hour is to make safety guidelines easily available in the K-12 segment. Will the industry dare?
Private schools have sent out directives in the last few weeks to parents to educate the children (including for nursery-school children) what is ‘good touch’ and what is ‘bad touch’. The move comes after two cases in September including the murder of a seven-year-old boy in a school in Gurgaon and the rape of a five-year-old child at a Delhi school. Can publishers fighting to provide better school readers than NCERT also include the ‘bad touch’ manual in their books?
Next academic year, if school children, using books published by the National Council of Education Research and Training flip to the back/last page of their textbooks, they can find a manual of sorts to avoid child sexual abuse.
The body, which assists the Centre and State governments on school curriculum and textbooks, want students to understand the difference between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. The NCERT has thus said all its books from the next academic year will have a list of dos and don’ts to deal with situations of violations. The last page of NCERT textbooks will also have helpline numbers and a brief on the laws on child sexual abuse. ‘So from the next session, the inner side of the back cover of all NCERT books will have certain guidelines in easily comprehensible language. It will also have certain illustrations about good touch and bad touch’, NCERT Director Hrushikesh Senapathy told news agency PTI. The government mandate is bold, if not revolutionary in a country where well-meaning but ignorant parents reject even basic sex education as part of adolescent healthcare.