Controversy over Grade 7 textbook “Hathe Ape Potha”

The Parliamentary Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resources Development have decided to convene a special meeting on January 21 to take a final decision on the controversial Grade 7 textbook, “Hathe Ape Potha”. On sex education.

The Sectoral Oversight Committee on Education and Human Resources Development has decided to summon Education Minister Dullas Alahapperuma and Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi for the meeting, the Parliamentary Media Unit said.

The decision convene a special meeting was taken at a joint meeting of the committees held yesterday in Parliament. Buddhist monks, specialist doctors, university professors, officials of the National Child Protection Authority and officials of the Ministry of Education were among the large gathering attended the meeting.

Many of the scholars who expressed their views at the meeting, pointed out that adolescents should be provided with sex education at an early age and presented the information form a number of surveys conducted by the Ministry of Health and universities.

Accordingly, the final decision on whether the “Hathe Ape Potha” should be re-released to schools is due to be taken on the 21st of this month.

The Parliamentary Media Unit also announced that it has been decided to invite the clergy who have criticized the book to the meeting. The Hathe Ape Potha, a sex education book for Grade 7 students, is a joint project of the Health Promotion Bureau of the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Education. A group of Buddhist monks led by Prof Ven Medagoda Abayatissa Thera calling a press conference recently condemned the book claiming that its contents are promoting “vulgarity” and corrupting minds of children. However, expecting a backlash in the run-up to the elections, the Educational Publications Department during the previous government, recalled the distribution of the sex education book in schools before the monks held the press conference.

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