In 2008 UNESCO embarked on a new programme of work focused on sexuality education to provide technical leadership on improving HIV prevention for young people in educational institutions.
The programme is designed to support the implementation of the UNESCO Strategy on HIV and AIDS and fulfils the Organization’s role as convenor for HIV prevention in education, in accordance with the revised UNAIDS division of labour.
UNESCO’s programme on sexuality education is supported by a Global Advisory Group that provides guidance and recommendations from a range of perspectives including anthropology, sociology, epidemiology, demography, education, psychology, social work and health economics, as well as gender and programme development. This group acts as a strong leadership platform for sexuality education and generates on-going interest in sexuality education and prioritisation of the issue. The inaugural meeting of the Global Advisory Group was held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris in December 2007. The meeting was informed by a UNESCO-led review of sexuality education in schools.
In response to the recommendations of the Global Advisory Group, UNESCO has undertaken a series of activities, including:
1. Development of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools teachers and health educators (first published in December 2009 and now available in English, French, Spanish, Arabic, Chinese, Portuguese and Russian);
2. A series of case studies on the implementation of national sexuality education programmes – Levers of Success (published July 2010 and now available in English, French and Portuguese);
3. A Cost and Cost-effectiveness Analysis of School-based Sexuality Education Programmes in Six Countries was completed in May 2011. The Executive Summary is available in English, French, Spanish and Portuguese and the Full Report in English only;
4. A consultation on scaling-up sexuality education programmes took place from 13-15 March 2012. The consultation brought together more than 40 experts and key stakeholders involved in the development and implementation of sexuality education programmes, from ministry representatives to young people from four different organizations. The findings and conclusions will form the basis of a publication on how to scale-up sexuality education (scheduled for 2012).
UNESCO is engaged in scaling up sexuality education at regional and country level in a number of countries, particularly those prioritised in the new UNAIDS Strategy 2011-2015: Getting to Zero.