Access to information and education on sexuality is a human right fundamental. The enjoyment and effectiveness of this right are essential for children, adolescents and young people. Because they contribute to their knowledge of their sexual health; of their body and allow them to gain self-confidence; to discuss sexuality without barriers and without complexes.
Information and education on sexuality with regard to children, adolescents and young people can only be effectively ensured by the integration of a Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in school programs. Although this is a complex process that must be approached with care and attention.
Comprehensive sexuality education, a basic human right
As much as we are, we had the right to receive quality information about our sexual health at any time in our lives and according to our scalable capabilities. Access to such information allows us to make important and life-saving decisions about our health. The best way to ensure fair and equitable access to this information is to include it in a written school curriculum to enable young people and adolescents to benefit from scientifically accurate and unbiased sex education.
Better still, several UN instruments for the protection of human rights recognize comprehensive sexuality education as a fundamental human right. Of international covenant on economic, social and cultural rightspassing through the convention on the rights of the child and the convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women, it is easy to see that the States parties to these various instruments, including Benin, have the obligation to provide comprehensive sexuality education to their citizens. But how can we really integrate comprehensive sexuality education into educational programs in Benin?
Acting for comprehensive sexuality education in school programs
- Establish a normative framework
The State can establish a secure legal framework which will aim to impose comprehensive sexuality education as one of the priorities in school curricula. The government in responding to these international commitments; after having signed and ratified the relevant conventions; must develop laws that encourage schools to provide comprehensive sexuality education and protect students’ sexual health rights. Comprehensive sexuality education programs must be inclusive; sensitive to the needs of different groups of students, and should respect local cultural norms and values.
Curricula in teacher training colleges do not yet take into account the issue of comprehensive sexuality education for learners. Teachers therefore need extensive training on CSE in order to be able to deliver quality lessons on this topic. These teachers should be encouraged to participate in ongoing training to improve their skills.
It is essential that parents be involved in this process so as not to bias the work that will be done by teachers once the children are home. Parental involvement is therefore necessary to ensure the success of comprehensive sexuality education. Parents should be informed and consulted about their children’s sex education programs and should be encouraged to participate in workshops and discussion groups on sexual health. By doing so, parents can help normalize discussions about sexuality and reduce the stigma associated with certain aspects of sexual health. Programs should address topics such as contraception, healthy relationships, prevention of sexually transmitted infections, sexual and gender diversity, consent, and respect for self and others.
- Periodically evaluate programs
It is important to monitor the impact of sex education programs to ensure that they are effective and meet the needs of students. Assessments can be made through anonymous student surveys, interviews with teachers and parents, and by collecting data on young people’s sexual health.
By using these approaches, schools can effectively integrate comprehensive sexuality education into their curricula, which can help young people make informed decisions and lead healthy and fulfilling sex lives. With the involvement of parents, they will also be educated on the notions of sexual health.