Review of Curricula and Curricular Frameworks : report to inform the update of the UNESCO International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education
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In 2009, UNESCO published the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (ITGSE): An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. The purpose of the ITGSE is to assist education, health and other relevant authorities in the development and implementation of school-based sexuality education programmes and materials (UNESCO, 2009). The publication was released in two volumes: Volume I, which focuses on the rationale for sexuality education and provides sound technical advice on the characteristics of effective programmes; and Volume II, which focuses on the topics and learning objectives to be covered in a ‘basic minimum package’ on sexuality education for children and young people from 5 to 18+ years of age, and includes a bibliography of useful resources. In 2016, UNESCO began a process to update the ITGSE, consisting of a literature review of the evidence and lessons learned since the release of the original publication; a stakeholder consultation on sexuality education held in October of 2016; an online user survey; and an expert, Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) Advisory Group established to inform the process and its findings. This report summarizes evidence-informed conclusions, expert recommendations and current practice for curriculum based sexuality education for ages 5-18+ and provides preliminary, overarching changes to Volume II of the ITGSE for consideration by the UNESCO CSE Advisory Group. Process To inform recommendations for updating Volume II, a broad range of publications and documentation was reviewed and in-depth interviews were conducted with a small group of stakeholders, including primary and secondary school students, teachers, and other experts. The desk review included first and foremost materials and recommendations generated to date through the ITGSE review process, including: PowerPoint presentations providing feedback gathered by stakeholders from numerous regions through a variety of methods, including focus groups, surveys, and written inputs; outcome recommendations from the UNESCO stakeholder consultation on updating the ITGSE, held in October of 2016; and, a review of the evidence on sexuality education commissioned by UNESCO for informing the update of the ITGSE, conducted in 2016 by Paul Montgomery and Wendy Knerr of the University of Oxford Centre for Evidence-Based Intervention. In addition, grey literature and journal articles addressing school-based sexuality education complementary to those reviewed by Montgomery and Knerr and which were published since 2008 were sought out through searches using a variety of terms for sexuality education (including sexuality education, sex education, life skills education, health and family life education, sexual and reproductive health education , life planning education), as well as more specific terms often in combination with “education” or “life skills” such as HIV, pregnancy prevention, gender, puberty, lesbian, gay, bisexual or trans-gender (LGBT), gender-based violence, and cyber-bullying, among others. Further, emphasis was placed on securing global, regional, or country frameworks and expert recommendations for school-based sexuality education for ages 5-18 published since 2008. Web sites searched included United Nations agency websites, including the UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearinghouse, websites of UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF and WHO; bilateral and multi-lateral organizations including USAID; and, international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) or initiatives, such as International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF), Population Council, Plan International, International Women’s Health Coalition, among others. In total, 55 documents were reviewed in three languages (English, French and Spanish) from Latin America and the Caribbean, North America, sub-Saharan Africa, Europe, Asia and the Pacific.