Education for Health and Well-Being


West and Central Africa (WCA) is the region of the world with the largest percentage of young people and the highest gender disparity in education. Upper secondary school completion rates are 35% for boys and 25% for girls.

A number of factors are responsible for the persistent gender disparities in education, including early and unintended pregnancy, poor sexual and reproductive health (SRH), and school-related gender-based violence (SRGBV), which have a marked impact on the education and future prospects of young people.

Few young people in the region receive adequate preparation for their sexual lives, which leaves them vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. Available evidence also shows that gender-based emotional, physical or sexual violence occurs in and around schools in WCA, often with consequences for students’ SRH and academic achievement, attendance or access to school.

UNESCO's approach

Under Education for Health and Well Being, UNESCO supports the education sector to ensure that all children and young people have the opportunity to develop the knowledge, skills and attitudes needed for healthy lives and relationships in the context of a supportive learning environment in West and Central Africa. To do so, the focus is on three related areas:

  • UNESCO improves the quality and coverage of comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) by supporting countries engaged in curriculum revision and in development of self-training tool.
  • An enabling environment for education for health and well-being is promoted through producing and sharing strategic information on different types of interventions, providing solutions to make CSE programmes culturally appropriate, and through the revision of tool to assess CSE programmes.
  • UNESCO implements a holistic approach to school-related gender based violence in selected countries.



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