A Regional Dialogue on Comprehensive Sexuality Education: The Way Forward

September 4, 2018 CSE pix

Child marriage, rape of young children and women, discrimination against transgender persons, gender bias and inequality, rising teenage pregnancies, increased HIV/ AIDS infections, and other such violations of SRHR are common in the Asia Pacific. We strongly believe that these issues in our region can be addressed through effective Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE).

To discuss this, over the course of two days – 6 & 7 September (Thursday & Friday), the Asian-Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW), UNESCO Bangkok, and UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office (APRO), will host a multi-stakeholder dialogue on the critical issue of CSE. The dialogue in Bangkok will see government officials, civil society organisations and UN colleagues engaged in CSE programmes from 15 countries, strategise on national and regional priorities to ensure that all children and young people are able to benefit from quality CSE programmes.

What is #CSE?

CSE is rights-based and gender-focussed curricular approach to sexuality education, grounded in human rights. It includes knowledge on pregnancy prevention and safer sex, understanding bodies and boundaries, relationships and respect, diversity and consent. Young people are naturally keen to know more about their bodies, sex and sexuality.

Hence, CSE imparts critical information and skills for life. According to Rutgers International, CSE means providing information and guidance about the physical and emotional aspects of growing up and starting relationships. And formal sex education should be based on facts.

But in the Asia Pacific region, these topics are treated as taboo and as young people transition into adulthood, they often receive too many conflicting and contradictory information on these crucial issues. The implementation of CSE curricula in schools in our region is sporadic, diluted or completely omitted either due to the stigma associated with these subjects, or baseless fear that such education may lead to premature sexual activities among young people. Religious and cultural inhibitions, lack of teacher knowledge and skills in imparting CSE, bureaucratic problems within relevant ministries, and pedagogic teaching methods are other reasons for the resistance in rolling out effective CSE-related education.

But, there is a growing a demand among young people in our region to be equipped with the right kind of information and skills. Sixty percent of the world’s youth live in Asia-Pacific— that is—more than 750 million young people between the ages of 15-24.

Nineteen percent or roughly one in every five persons is young. Access to CSE is grounded in the fundamental human rights of having the right to education, the right to health, the right to sexuality and moreover, the right to non-discrimination, the right to privacy—all of which, on the overall impacts, the right to life. A denial of CSE constitutes a denial of these fundamental rights.

The goal is clear – children and young people must have access to accurate and age appropriate knowledge and skills – in and out of school – to enable them to make conscious, healthy and respectful choices about their relationships and sexuality.

Let your voice be heard, share your thoughts, and support the call to strengthen CSE programmes in the region by using the hashtags #CSE4All and #CSEandMe.

You can also join this conversation this Thursday & Friday with ARROW, UNESCO and UNFPA on Facebook or via Twitter at @ARROW_Women, @UNESCO_AsiaPac and @UNFPAasia

Learn more about what CSE is, here:

UNESCO’s recently updated and expanded International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Education

UNFPA’s Operational Guidance for Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Focus on Human Rights and Gender https://www.unfpa.org/publications/unfpa-operational-guidance-comprehensive-sexuality-education

Learn more about the status of CSE implementation globally, including the Asia-Pacific region:

UNESCO’s Emerging Evidence, Lessons and Practice in Comprehensive Sexuality Education: A Global Review

ARROW’s Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Asia: A Regional Brief

The Evaluation of Comprehensive Sexuality Education Programmes https://www.unfpa.org/publications/evaluation-comprehensive-sexuality-education-programmes

Related Resources:

ARROW’s Coming of Age in the Classroom: Religious and Cultural Barriers to Comprehensive Sexuality Education

ARROW’s Sustainable Development Agenda & Young People: Recognising Voices and Claiming Rights

Review of Curricula in the Context of Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Nepal https://nepal.unfpa.org/en/publications/review-curricula-context-comprehensive-sexuality-education-nepal

Young people and the law in Asia and the Pacific http://asiapacific.unfpa.org/id/node/10933

Our Rights Matter Too: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights of Young Key Populations in Asia and the Pacific http://www.aidsdatahub.org/sites/default/files/publication/Youth_Lead_Our_Rights_Matter_Too_2015.pdf

Young Persons with Disabilities: Global Study on Ending Gender-based Violence and Realizing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights https://www.unfpa.org/publications/young-persons-disabilities

Adolescent Boys and Young Men https://www.unfpa.org/publications/adolescent-boys-and-young-men


For more information, please contact:

Sai Jyothirmai Racherla, Programme Director, Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (ARROW): [email protected]

Kabir Singh, Regional Advisor (HIV and Health), UNESCO Bangkok: [email protected]

Josephine Sauvarin, Regional Advisor on Adolescents and Youth, UNFPA Asia and the Pacific Regional Office: [email protected]

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