Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : October 19th 2015 Contents A26
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Monday, October 19, 2015
Sexuality education is vital, argues Unesco,
because it provides children and young people with
knowledge, skills, and values that allow them to
face their responsibilities in their sexual and social
This can help to change the course of the HIV epi-
demic, and to prevent new cases of sexually-trans-
mitted infections, unplanned pregnancies, sexual
violence, abuse, and exploitation, discrimination,
stigmatisation and all other forms of related violence,
says Unesco. Comprehensive sexuality education is
a complex issue---all the more so in Latin America
and the Caribbean, where a number of viewpoints
and ideologies often place obstacles in the way of
incorporating the area into formal education curricula.
Several years ago, Unesco proposed a package of
International Technical Guidance on Sexuality Edu-
cation that aimed to provide key tools to make
advances with learning objectives by age group, bal-
ancing the needs of children and young people and
the responsibilities of teachers and parents.
Michel Sidibé, executive director of UNAIDS, wrote
about this in his foreward to the Unesco 2009 doc-
ument: International Technical Guidance on Sexuality
Education, reproduced below.
'Human sexuality and relationships
must be part of education'
"Preparing children and young people for the tran-
sition to adulthood has always been one of humanity s
great challenges, with human sexuality and relation-
ships at its core. Today, in a world with Aids, how
we meet this challenge is our most important oppor-
tunity in breaking the trajectory of the epidemic.
"In many societies, attitudes and laws stifle public
discussion of sexuality and sexual behaviour---for
example in relation to contraception, abortion, and
sexual diversity. More often than not, men s access
to power is left unquestioned while girls, women and
sexual minorities miss out.
"Parents and families play a vital role in shaping
the way we understand our sexual and social identities.
Parents need to be able to address the physical and
behavioural aspects of human sexuality with their
children, and children need to be informed and
equipped with the knowledge and skills to make
responsible decisions about sexuality, relationships,
HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
"Currently, far too few young people are receiving
adequate preparation which leaves them vulnerable
to coercion, abuse, exploitation, unintended pregnancy
and sexually transmitted infections, including HIV.
"The UNAIDS 2008 Global Report on the Aids
epidemic reported that only 40 per cent of young
people aged 15-24 had accurate knowledge about
HIV and transmission. This knowledge is all the more
urgent as young people aged 15-24 account for 45
per cent of all new HIV infections.
"We have a choice to make: leave children to find
their own way through the clouds of partial infor-
mation, misinformation and outright exploitation
that they will find from media, the Internet, peers
and the unscrupulous, or instead face up to the chal-
lenge of providing clear, well informed, and scien-
tifically-grounded sexuality education based in the
universal values of respect and human rights.
"Comprehensive sexuality education can radically
shift the trajectory of the epidemic, and young people
are clear in their demand for more---and better---sex-
uality education, services and resources to meet their
"If we are to make an impact on children and
young people before they become sexually active,
comprehensive sexuality education must become
part of the formal school curriculum, delivered by
well-trained and supported teachers.
"Teachers remain trusted sources of knowledge
and skills in all education systems and they are a
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and advice
Unesco urges sexuality education for HIV prevention
highly-valued resource in the education
sector response to Aids. As well, special
efforts need to be made to reach children
out of school---often the most vulnerable
to misinformation and exploitation.
"An International Technical Guidance
on Sexuality Education has been devel-
oped by Unesco together with UNAIDS
Cosponsors, particularly UNFPA, WHO
and Unicef as well as the UNAIDS Sec-
retariat, as well as with a number of
independent experts and those working
in countries across the world to strength-
"Currently, far too
few young people are
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