What do you do when leaders are hesitant to implement Sexuality Education?Share
Lessons learned in Lesotho: The importance of local dialogue in breaking the barriers and stigma surrounding sexuality education
Implementing Life Skills Education that incorporates comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) can be a challenging process. Even more so: the challenge of ensuring that community leaders and organizations are in full support of CSE integration. What do you do if they are hesitant?
UNESCO in collaboration with PHELA Health and Development Communications and with help from the Ministries of Health and Education conducted informative regional, district and national dialogue sessions in Lesotho, to discuss important lessons learned regarding how to effectively incorporate Life Skills-based sexuality education and CSE into curricula.
In 2013, the Lesotho Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) revised and strengthened its Life Skills curriculum to include CSE. However, key stakeholders, including religious figures, parents, teachers and community leaders believed that teaching CSE in schools would lead to early sexual debut and countered the local culture and religion. Critics argued that parents wouldn’t agree to the teachings, and teachers would be uncomfortable and lack skills.
In order to address concerns about Life Skills-based sexuality education and CSE in Lesotho, UNESCO in collaboration with PHELA Health and Development Communications and with help from the Ministries of Health and Education held regional district and national dialogue sessions with key influencers in the community. Participants included senior church leaders, local chiefs, councilors, parents and school representatives.
Conversations centered on why these groups were anxious about sexual reproductive health and education for young people, and provided an opportunity to explain the benefits of Life Skills-based sexuality education and CSE. At the national level, young people were invited to showcase their wanting and need for CSE and sexuality information from reliable sources. The process culminated in the signing of Gatekeepers SRHR Statement pledging collaborative efforts by all to promote access to sexual reproductive health (SRH) information and education and services.
Important lessons were learned during the process. It was determined that in order to be successful, SRH programmes need to take into account culture and religion in the implementation process. Furthermore, it is very important that SRH programmes address lack of information and feelings of inadequacy among key stakeholders. Finally, it was recommended that a school community network be created for young people. The support network must provide SRH information and services in schools where Life Skills based sexuality education curriculum is implemented.
Lesotho has made great advancements in sexuality and reproductive health education implementation methods – and it starts by ensuring we’re all on the same page.