Call to integrate comprehensive sex education in school curricula | Tunisia News Gazette

Call to integrate comprehensive sex education in school curricula

Tunisian and foreign sociologists, psychologists, experts in reproductive and sexual health, education and human rights specialists, trade unionists and representatives of civil society on Tuesday called for the integration of comprehensive sex education in school curricula.

At a national conference held July 4-5 in Tunis on comprehensive sex education in Tunisia, at the initiative of the Arab Institute for Human Rights (AIHR) and the Tunisian Association of Reproduction Health (French: ATSR) in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), speakers stressed the need to integrate comprehensive sex education into educational curricula to prevent youths and teenagers from risky behaviours and sexually transmitted diseases.

Participants estimated that despite all efforts in this area, the approaches adopted remain ineffective and the subject remains taboo in several circles.

“Strengthening comprehensive sex education for youths and teenagers is a source of prosperity for the individual and a means to devote their right to better health and a healthy life,” said Rym Fayala, representative of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Tunis.

For Abdelbasset Belhassen, AIHR Director, comprehensive sexuality education is now paramount in that it enshrines the freedom and dignity of the human body, which is an important human right.

For his part, Noureddine Chemingui, a representative of the UGTT and a member of the national committee for reform of the education sector, stressed that the trade union organisation would do its utmost to reinforce comprehensive sexuality education as part of a modern and civil education system based on modern educational approaches.

The conference was an opportunity to present the recommendations of a comparative study on comprehensive sex education programmes in the world and Tunisia carried out in 2017.

These recommendations are multi-faceted. In the legal field, the study essentially recommends revising legislation that does not respect sexual and reproductive rights.

In the family domain, the study recommends promoting the culture of dialogue within the family and strengthening the parents’ capacity for comprehensive sexual education.

With regard to school and vocational training, emphasis was placed on the need to improve the relationship between pupils and the educational framework, to set up clubs for comprehensive sex education in schools and to integrate life skills in curricula.

It is also a question of combating violence in schools, further integrating issues related to comprehensive sex education into curricula at different levels, taking into account the stages of the evolution of learners , strengthen partnership between the family and the school, take a greater interest in the pupils’ mental health, raise awareness among educators about the importance of dialogue and respect for the right of pupils to participate in decision-making and train the educational body in the field of comprehensive sex education.

In the area of health, the study recommends improving the quality of school health services, creating a toll-free number for listening to teenagers and youths, developing awareness programmes to prevent risk behaviour and promoting free and anonymous HIV testing.

According to the same source, it is also necessary to involve children, teenagers and youths in media production, to promote neutral media treatment of sexual and reproductive rights, to carry out communication campaigns to promote comprehensive sex education.

It should be noted that many studies on reproductive health show that initiation to sexual life is becoming more and more prevalent among young Tunisians. A survey conducted in 2009 at the National Office for Family and Population (ONFP) revealed that the average age at first intercourse is currently 16.4 years for girls and 17.4 years for boys, 13.5% for girls and 52.5% for boys in the 15-24 age group already have sexual intercourse.

Yet almost 60% of all sexually active young people did not use protective methods and only 19.1% of women aged 15-24 have extensive knowledge of sexual and reproductive health and HIV.

Source: TAP News Agency

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