The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) recently released the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: An evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. We wanted to bring your attention to this two-part document which provides a framework to develop and implement comprehensive sexuality education to ensure that young people have access to evidence-based, medically-accurate, and age-appropriate information to make safe and healthy decisions. UNESCO, in partnership with the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), and the World Health Organization (WHO), developed a resource that bolsters efforts to promote gender equality and prevent unintended pregnancy and sexuality transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV. The former director for international education at the Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) was a contributing author to this publication during her time at the organization.
UNAIDS estimates that in 2008 there were 33.8 million individuals living with HIV.[i] The large number of individuals infected with HIV categorizes the disease as an epidemic. Providing comprehensive sexuality education to children and young people is viewed by the Executive Director of UNAIDS as the “most important opportunity in breaking the trajectory of the epidemic.”[ii] The International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education serves as a practical resource for decision-makers and professionals working within educational and health fields, mapping out the core concepts of comprehensive sexuality education in an age-appropriate schematic. The document is separated into two volumes:
Volume I of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education outlines the rationale for comprehensive sexuality education, detailing the evidence base for the effectiveness of such interventions. This volume also provides details on the core characteristics of effective programming and how to build support among key stakeholders, such as parents, educators, and community leaders.
Volume II of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education, a companion guide released by UNESCO in collaboration with UNAIDS, focuses on the topics and learning objectives for comprehensive sexuality education. The goals of UNESCO’s sexuality education guide include giving students accurate information, having students explore values, and encouraging youth to make responsible and informed decisions. The guide provides learning objectives on sexuality education for each grade level.
[i] Epidemiology slides: 2009 AIDS epidemic update. (Geneva, Switzerland: UNAIDS, December 2009), accessed 27 January 2010, <http://www.unaids.org/en/KnowledgeCentre/HIVData/Epidemiology/2009_epislides.asp>.
[ii] International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education: an evidence-informed approach for schools, teachers and health educators. (Paris, France: UNESCO, December 2009), accessed 27 January 2010, <http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0018/001832/183281e.pdf >.