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UNESCO seeks comprehensive approach to sexuality education

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) hasadvocated quality and comprehensive sexuality education to promote health and well-being, respect for human rightsandgenderequality, andempowers children and young people to lead healthy, safe and productive lives.

The United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) hasadvocated quality and comprehensive sexuality education to promote health and well-being, respect for human rightsandgenderequality, andempowers children and young people to lead healthy, safe and productive lives.

This, according to a release by the International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP-UNESCO), last week, was coming nearly 10 years after the organization published its first edition, a fully updated International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education.

“Based on the latest scientific evidence, the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education reaffirms the position of sexuality education within a framework of human rights and gender equality,” it said. According to the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay, such comprehensive sexuality education would promote structured learning about sexuality and relationships in a manner that is positive and centred on the best interest of the young person.

By outlining the essential components of effective sexuality education programmes, he pointed out that the Guidance enables national authorities to design comprehensive curricula that will have a positive impact on young people’s health and well-being.

The Technical Guidance is designed to assist education policy makers in all countries to design accurate and appropriate curricula for children and young people aged from five to 18 years and above.

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Azoulay added: “Based on a review of the current status of sexuality education around the world and drawing on best practices in the various regions, the Guidance notably demonstrates that sexuality education helps young people to become more responsible in their attitude and behaviour regarding sexual and reproductive health.”

Part of the relevance of the technical guidance on sexuality education is that it is essential to combat the school dropout of girls due to early or forced marriage, teenage pregnancy and sexual and reproductive health issues.It is also necessary because in some parts of the world, two out of three girls reported having no idea of what was happening to them when they began menstruating and pregnancy and childbirth complications are the second cause of death among 15 to 19 years olds.

Against this backdrop, it does not increase sexual activity, sexual risktaking behaviour, or STI/HIV infection rates; but presents evidence showing that abstinence-only programmes fail to prevent early sexual initiation, or reduce the frequency of sex and number of partners among the younger ones.

Meanwhile, the UNESCO publication identifies an urgent need for quality comprehensive sexuality education to provide information and guidance to young people about the transition from childhood to adulthood and the physical, social and emotional challenges they face.

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