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Sexuality education

Aug 07, 2009

Effective sexuality education is critical to reduce the risk of HIV, unintended pregnancy and coercive or abusive sexual activity, says UNESCO’s International Guidelines on Sexuality Education. The document outlines steps to ensure that children and youth have access to information needed in their personal, social and sexual lives.

International Guidelines on Sexuality Education

Publisher: UNESCO, June 2009

In many parts of the world, young people are receiving inadequate sexuality education, making them vulnerable to HIV, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), unintended pregnancy, and sexual exploitation and abuse according to UNESCO.

To complicate matters, they are often discouraged from openly discussing sexual matters by adults, including parents and teachers, and approach adulthood faced with conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender.

These guidelines provide an “evidence-informed approach to effective sex, relationships and HIV/STI education” for children and young people. According to the guidelines, effective sexuality education is a vital part of HIV prevention and is also critical to achieving universal access targets for prevention, treatment, care and support.

The main goal of sexuality education is to help young people at primary and secondary school levels to acquire knowledge, skills and values to make informed choices about their sexual lives.

The guidelines recommend teaching that is “age-appropriate, culturally relevant and scientifically accurate”, and delivered within a setting where young people feel free to explore their attitudes and practices.

The International Guidelines are aimed primarily at education and health sector decision-makers, in particular ministries of education and health, and education professionals such as curriculum developers, programme implementers and teachers. They comprise:

  • An outline of the “basic minimum package” of topics and learning objectives for a comprehensive sexuality education programme from age 5 to 18+ years;
  • An updated analysis of the evidence related to behaviour change interventions among young people;
  • Technical advice on the characteristics of effective programmes and important steps to implement them;
  • A bibliography of useful resources for policy-makers, practitioners and implementers recommended by international experts.
Source : UNESCO
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