It has been almost a decade since the first edition of the International technical guidance on sexuality education developed by UNESCO experts in cooperation with other UN agencies was released in 2009. During this time, the global community has achieved certain improvements in delivering health and well-being education for adolescents. However, the world is rapidly changing – and new effective approaches to sexuality education have emerged. Therefore, in the beginning of 2018 UNESCO headquarters published a new edition of the guidance, prepared in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNFPA, UNICEF, UN Women and WHO. UNESCO Institute for Information Technologies in Education translated the guidance into Russian to introduce it to specialists in Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
There are many myths and misconceptions about adolescence; these myths often wander from generation to generation. Even in the 21st century, large number of young people receive inaccurate and incomplete information about physical and emotional processes that accompany puberty. Another problem is lack of consistent training on developing healthy habits and life skills. The evidence shows that systematic sexuality education has positive impact on the social and psychological development of young people, while decreasing their vulnerability to risks such as bullying, gender-based violence, substance use, HIV, STIs and unintended pregnancy.
The revised and fully updated edition of the International technical guidance on sexuality education benefits from a new review of the current research and offers recommendations for introducing comprehensive education on a wide range of topics related to puberty and transition to adult life. The guidance promotes structured learning about sexuality and relationships in a manner that is positive, affirming, and centered on the best interest of the young people.
The new guidance provides a methodological framework for developing educational programmes adapted to local cultural and social context. The learning objectives correspond to four age groups (5-8 years, 9-12 years, 12-15 years and 15-18 years) and the topics progress in a logical sequence from simple to more complex, as children get older. The guidance suggests eight key topics that are equally important and mutually reinforcing. They cover relationships, values and rights, understanding gender, preventing violence and staying safe, skills for health and well-being, human body and development, sexuality and sexual behaviour, sexual and reproductive health.
Open discussion of these concepts helps young people to address social and emotional challenges they face and allows them to take a more responsible approach to their physical, psychological and reproductive health in order to become healthy, confident and self-aware adults over time.
UNESCO headquarters also produced a three-minute video, which provides a brief and accessible explanation why the comprehensive approach to sexuality and health education is important.
To learn more about UNESCO’s work in the field of sexuality education and adolescent health, please visit the UNESCO thematic page.