Comprehensive Sexuality Education


Comprehensive Sexuality Education is defined as an age-appropriate, culturally relevant approach to teaching about sex and relationships by providing scientifically accurate, realistic, non-judgmental information.

CSE provides opportunities to explore one’s own values and attitudes and to build decision- making, communication and risk reduction skills about many aspects of sexuality.

Key concepts included in comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) are:

1. Relationships
Friendship, love, romantic relationships, parenting

2. Values, Attitudes and Skills
Values, decision-making, communication

3. Culture, Society and Human Rights

Sexuality, culture and rights, gender, sexual abuse and violence

4. Human Development

Reproduction, puberty, bodily integrity

5. Sexual Behaviour

Sex, sexuality and the sexual life cycle, sexual behaviour

6. Sexual and Reproductive Health

Pregnancy prevention, HIV and STI Risk Reduction HIV stigma and care

Read the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education



Strong international agreements exist to promote the roll-out of CSE including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women.

CSE in Africa has a large focus on the growing AIDS epidemic. Most countries have reported that they provide life skills-based HIV education in their public schools.

However, the results of a regional curriculum scan carried out by UNICEF, UNFPA and UNESCO highlights that there are gaps and concerns in over 70 per cent of the topics in the curricula. These gaps included:

  • Key aspects of information on sex and sexual health
  • Information about condoms and contraception
  • Insufficient contradictory messages about gender and human rights
  • References to sexuality tended to be negative and based on fear

Some of the content being taught in country have also been recognized as age appropriate and effective in addressing foundational communication skills.



Good quality and well implemented CSE programmes promote:

  • Increased knowledge levels about sexuality, relationships and HIV
  • Delayed initiation of sexual activity
  • Reduced frequency of unprotected sexual activity
  • Reduced number of sexual partners, and
  • Increased use of protection against unintended pregnancy and STIs
  • The empowerment of girls and women and greater gender equality

The ESA Commitment aims to accelerate the implementation of comprehensive sexuality education across the region in light of the benefits shown above.


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