Sex education across the world is ‘too little, too late and too biological’, according to a new report released today by the world’s leading provider of sexual health services.
The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), which works with partner organisations in 170 countries, is calling for all of the world’s 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 and 24 to get universal access to comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).
A new report called: ‘Everyone’s Right to Know: delivering comprehensive sexuality education for all young people’ calls for more investment in, and better CSE for the largest youth population that the world has ever seen.
IPPF says it is an issue that needs to be tackled urgently as the number of young people continues to rise.
“The starting point, and the absolute minimum requirement, is that CSE must reach all young people – wherever they are,” according to the Director General of IPPF, Tewodros Melesse.
“We cannot achieve gender transformative change by focusing only on health outcomes. We must equip young people with information about health as well as positive aspects of sex and sexuality,” he added.
The report argues that millions of young people are missing out completely on CSE. It says that CSE delivery is often outdated and non-participatory and that teaching staff are not adequately trained and content focuses exclusively on health outcomes, rather than the recognition of rights.
Too often CSE is scientifically inaccurate and solely geared to health outcomes. In particular, it emphasizes potential negative health risks, as opposed to seeing young people as sexual beings and recognizing the positive aspects of sexuality.
The report also says that the most vulnerable young people, who often find themselves outside the school system, are excluded.
IPPF believes gaps must be filled to ensure that CSE is also provided in non-formal settings outside the classroom, reaching the hardest to reach young people.
Vesna Turmakovska works with young people with learning difficulties at IPPF’s Member Association in Macedonia. She said: “Sexuality is part of these young people’s lives; they’re sexual beings and they express their sexuality on a daily basis. Some parents were afraid that the very fact of learning about sexuality would encourage their children to have sexual relations.
“We explained that it was about giving skills to their children to make them capable of defending themselves from potential abusers. We also explained that they need skills to become more independent in life, and need to be able to make a distinction between friendship and love.”
The report demands three things. It calls on government worldwide to deliver high quality CSE that meets the needs of all young people in and out of schools.
Secondly, governments, civil society organizations and health providers must make sure teachers, educational institutions and individuals who deliver CSE in both schools and non-formal settings are trained sufficiently and are confident in delivering sexuality education in a way that is positive and non-judgmental.
Finally, educators and civil society should work with communities and parents to build support for CSE as well as a culture that supports choice and respect for young people and their sexual and reproductive health and rights.
This report says implementing high quality CSE inside and outside schools is a necessity for governments worldwide, not a political choice. It says that to ignore the education of young people, to restrict their choices, to limit access to life-saving services and to deny their happiness
Notes to editors:
For more information please contact a member of IPPF’s communications team.
Marek Pruszewicz, Director of Communications [email protected]+44(0) 7740 631769
Contraception, Comprehensive Sex Education, Gender equality