Number/percent of schools offering comprehensive sex education

The number or percentage of primary and secondary schools with at least one teacher who has been trained in comprehensive sex education and who has taught the subject at least once in the last academic year (UNAIDS 2008).

According to SIECUS, Comprehensive Sexuality Education are sexuality education programs that operate throughout primary and secondary education which:

  • Are age-appropriate and medically accurate
  • Provide students with opportunities for developing skills as well as learning information.

These programs should also cover information on a broad set of topics related to sexuality including:

  • Human development
  • Relationships
  • Personal skills such as communication and decision making
  • Sexual behavior
  • Sexual health such as contraception and disease prevention
  • Society and culture (UNESCO 2009) including gender norms

Within each country “comprehensive sex education” is a term which needs to be operationally defined (UNESCO 2009). Some countries have national reproductive health policies, strategic plans or laws which dictate what should or cannot be included in the sexual health education offered at public, government run schools.

As a percentage, this indicator is calculated as:

(Number of schools with at least one teacher trained in, and regularly teaching, comprehensive sex education / Total number of schools surveyed) x 100

Responses to school-based surveys asking school administrators or principals if comprehensive sex education has been offered at their school the last academic year (UNAIDS 2008)

Principals/directors of a nationally representative sample of schools (including both private and public schools, and primary and secondary schools) should be briefed on the definition of comprehensive sex education and are then asked the following questions.

  • Does your school have at least one qualified teacher who has been trained in participatory life-skills-based HIV/AIDS education in the last five years?  

A “qualified teacher” is one who has participated in and successfully completed a training course focusing on the skills required that aim to develop knowledge, positive attitudes and skills (e.g. interpersonal communication, negotiation, decision-making and critical thinking skills and coping strategies) that assist young people in maintaining safe lifestyles.

  • If the answer to question 1 is “Yes”: Did this person teach comprehensive sex education on a   regular basis in your school throughout the last academic year?

“Throughout” means at least 5–15 hours of comprehensive sex education programming per year per grade of pupil.

The criterion of teaching “on a regular basis” is grounded in research showing that programs of high quality can produce good outcomes after 5–15 hours of life-skills based comprehensive sex education programming per year per grade of pupil.

The time dimension of “the last academic year” depends on the educational calendar in the country concerned (usually 9−10 months in one calendar year, designed to allow students to complete one educational level or grade) (UNAIDS 2008).

The data can be disaggregated by school type such as urban, rural, public private, primary, or secondary.   In addition, evaluators may wish to look at school attendance registers to get a crude estimate of how many students may have received comprehensive sex education.

Institutional records, school-based survey, interviews with school principals or directors

This indicator is a measure of progress in implementing comprehensive sex education in schools.  It reflects coverage by school and estimates the proportion of schools that report having such programs.

Few individuals receive adequate, comprehensive education on sexuality. This leaves many potentially vulnerable to coercion, abuse and exploitation, unintended pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including HIV (Population Council, 2007). Many young people approach adulthood faced with conflicting and confusing messages about sexuality and gender.

Because there is no other government sponsored system which reaches as many individuals as the school system, it provides a crucial means for reaching adolescents with the information and skills that are a necessary part of stopping the spread of HIV and preventing unwanted pregnancy. There is strong evidence that school-based sex education can be effective in changing the knowledge, attitudes and practices that lead to risky behavior (UNESCO 2009).

With the increase in numbers of children who are completing primary education, there is an important opportunity to begin to work comprehensive sex education into standard curricula in primary and secondary education. Increased knowledge about how to reduce risk is also a major step toward achieving Millennium Development Goal # 6, target 6B, halting the spread of HIV by 2015. In addition, this indicator references sex education and is closely tied to the UNGASS indicator “By 2005: ensure that at least 90% and by 2010 at least 95% of young men and women, 15–24, have access to information, education including peer and youth-specific HIV education and services necessary to develop the life skills required to reduce their vulnerability to HIV infection, ” although it makes a point of including more comprehensive knowledge around issues of sex and sexuality.

This is not a measure of quality of comprehensive sex education and therefore can be combined with the indicator, Sexual reproductive health education curriculum conformity to “best practices”. Single programs conducted by outside agencies or facilitators at the school should be excluded as they are generally done on an ad hoc basis. This indicator tracks the systematic inclusion of comprehensive sex education into the curriculum. The indicator may not capture the total effort of providing comprehensive sex education through schools, because students may be able to obtain some information from extracurricular sources (e.g. educational pamphlets, posters, special assemblies) (UNAIDS 2008).

access, communication, adolescent

This indicator does not track who is getting comprehensive sex education through the school system, only that it is being offered. Because of cultural norms in some countries that favor boys’ school attendance over girls’, collecting attendance rosters, disaggregated by sex, can help identify whether girls and boys are accessing comprehensive sexual education equally.

UNAIDS, 2003 The HIV/AIDS Response by the Education Sector: A Checklist UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team for Education Working Group to Accelerate the Education Sector Response to HIV/AIDS. Washington DC: World Bank.

WHO, 2007 National AIDS programmes: a guide to indicators for monitoring and evaluating national HIV/AIDS prevention programmes for young people World Health Organization.

WHO/UNFPA, 2007. National-level monitoring of the achievement of universal access to reproductive health : conceptual and practical considerations and related indicators -- report of a WHO/UNFPA Technical Consultation, Geneva.

Learning to Live: Monitoring and Evaluating HIV/AIDS Programmes for Young People Save the Children Douglas Webb and Lyn Elliott, Abbreviated Version, 2002 With support from UNAIDS and DFID.

Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education 3rd Edition National Guidelines Task Force, Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States 2004.