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Back to school: UNAIDS PCB Members get a lesson in comprehensive sexuality education

As part of the 26th UNAIDS Programme Coordinating Board (PCB) meeting which took place in Geneva, 22-25 June 2010, UNESCO, the PCB NGO delegation, UNAIDS, World Population Foundation, the UNAIDS IATT on Education, IPPF and the Government of Finland organized a breakout session to highlight the linkages between sexual and reproductive health (SRH), HIV and comprehensive sexuality education (CSE).

The session, entitled, ‘SRH & HIV: What’s comprehensive sexuality education got to do with it?’ demonstrated first-hand how CSE can be employed as a tool for HIV prevention among young people, and highlighted the voices of young people.

The session was divided into two parts:

Part 1: Sexuality Education in Practice – A demonstration exercise
The session was introduced by Mark Richmond, UNESCO’s Global Coordinator on HIV and AIDS, who discussed the importance of making comprehensive sexuality information available to young people and pointed to the evidence which has been compiled in the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education (2009).

What followed next was an innovative and exciting demonstration exercise on teaching and learning about sexuality with a group of around 40 students (15-18 years old) from two Geneva-based international schools. The students enthusiastically participated in several sexuality education demonstration lessons, explaining what kind of sexuality education they have received to date, the extent to which it is sufficient to meet their needs, discussing intimacy, what this means, and how it is related to HIV prevention. This lively and frank exercise was facilitated by an experienced teacher-trainer from Kenya.

This allowed PCB participants to:

  • observe first-hand how sexuality education can be effectively delivered in classrooms;

  • see and hear how young people react and respond to sexuality education; and

  • talk with the teacher and students involved in the demonstration exercise.

  • It also provided an invaluable opportunity for the students to tell us what they need and want in terms of comprehensive sexuality education.

    Part 2: Views from the field – A panel discussion
    The next part of the session called on experts from the field to discuss what is happening ‘on the ground’ or in classrooms around the world. This enabled the PCB participants to hear about and discuss the challenges and benefits of putting sexuality education into practice and what this means for teachers, students, and government partners.

    The panellists and participants included –

    Ms Jovana Rios Cisnero from Panama, a youth leader/activist who was the Youth Force advisor at the Central American Congress of HIV and AIDS where she was responsible for presenting the Youth Declaration in the Meeting of Ministers of Youth and Health of Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic, which approved an addendum recognizing the Youth Force Declaration in the Ministers Declaration of San Jose, Costa Rica 2010.

    Mr Albert Obbuyi from Kenya, a sexuality education practitioner who is the national coordinator for a comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights programme with the World Population Foundation/the Centre for the Study of Adolescence in Kenya and who has considerable local, regional and national experience designing and implementing health and development programmes particularly around sexual and reproductive health, with a focus on adolescent SRH.

    40 Students and students and their teachers from Collège du Léhman and L’école Internationale based in Geneva and who represented a global group of young people ranging in age from 15-18 and who brought first-hand knowledge and experience on what young people need and want in terms of sexuality education.

    Over 100 PCB members who represented national governments, civil society, UN agencies, and donors from around the world.

    The session was facilitated by Jo Reinders, a sexologist and the technical advisor on Young People and Sexual Health of the World Population Foundation based in the Netherlands, who has been active in sexuality education and HIV- prevention for school and out-of-school youth for 25 years and was one of the experts engaged in the development of the International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education of UNESCO.

    • Author(s):ED/UNP/HIV
    • 29-07-2010
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