A new policy paper jointly produced by the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) and the Global Education Monitoring Report (GEM) demonstrates the vital role that comprehensive sexuality education has to play in achieving a quality education as outlined in the fourth Sustainable Development Goal.
It was presented at the ongoing Women Deliver conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada.
A copy of the document obtained by EduCeleb.com indicated that though there may be negative public attitudes by sections of the society to sexuality education, such misconceptions are usually unsupported by evidence.
It called on governments to be proactive in securing the support of communities, education workers, and partners in other sectors, particularly health to promote sexuality education.
It noted the importance of children and young people to learn about sex and safer sex behaviours before they become sexually active so they are adequately prepared for healthy, consensual relationships.
“Comprehensive sexuality education is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality, going beyond the narrower approaches that were more common in the past,” it read in part.
“For several reasons, it is vital to the achievement of several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
“It improves sexual and reproductive health-related outcomes, such as HIV infection and adolescent pregnancy rates, which in turn helps expand education opportunities.”
“It disrupts harmful gender norms and promotes gender equality, which helps reduce or prevent gender-based violence and hence create safe and inclusive learning environments.”
“As an active teaching and learning approach centred on students, it helps develop skills such as critical thinking, communication and decision-making that empower students to take responsibility for and control their actions and help them become healthy, responsible, productive citizens.”
The report emphasised age appropriateness as a characteristic of effective comprehensive sexuality education.
The learning objectives of the United Nation’s International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education are grouped according to four age ranges: 5 to 8, 9 to 12, 12 to 15 and 15 to 18 or over.
“Children as young as 5 need age- and developmentally appropriate sexuality education to enable them to understand basic facts about their bodies, think about families and social relationships, and recognize inappropriate behaviour, including child abuse.”
“Before they reach adolescence, young people need a clear understanding of the physical and emotional changes they will experience and of how these changes are related to their development and to reproduction.
“Negative social attitudes limit the amount and accuracy of some of the information adolescents receive at home and in school,” the policy document added.
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