Sexual and reproductive health education curriculum conformity to “best practices”
This qualitative (yes/no) indicator measures the extent to which the program‘s sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education curriculum contains all (or most) of the features identified as “best practices“ or “key elements“ of effective SRH programs. Alternatively, the indicator can serve as an index or scale indicating the percent of best practices and key elements that the program has incorporated into it‘s curricula and materials.
Content analysis of the curriculum; accompanying materials; and activities that permit an assessment of conformity with “best practices”
Content analysis of program curriculum, materials, and learning methodologies; observation of actual delivery; interviews or focus groups with youth; or self-reported questionnaires from youth who participated in the program
This indicator measures the quality of SRH education efforts focusing on curriculum content. The indicator reflects how well the program covers key aspects of SRH education and how appropriate the content is for the age-group of adolescents reached. A growing consensus requires that comprehensive sexuality education should cover, at minimum, the following four primary goals:
- Provide information about human sexuality, including human development, relationships, personal skills, sexual behavior, sexual health, and society and culture.
- Provide an opportunity to question, explore, and assess sexual attitudes in order to develop values, increase self-esteem, create insights concerning relationships with members of both genders, and understand obligations and responsibilities to others.
- Help develop interpersonal skills, including communication, decision-making, assertiveness, and peer refusal skills-and help to create satisfying relationships.
- Help create responsibility regarding sexual relationships, including addressing abstinence, resisting pressure to become prematurely involved in sexual intercourse, and encouraging the use of contraception and other sexual health measures.
Illustrative guidelines for sexuality education in the U.S. provided by SIECUS (1996) and Kirby (2001) enumerate ten characteristics that successful SRH education programs in the U.S. share:
- Focus on reducing one or more sexual behaviors that lead to unintended pregnancy or STI/HIV;
- Design based on theoretical approaches demonstrated to effectively influence health-related risky behaviors;
- Clear messages about sexual activity and condom/ contraceptive use and continual reinforcement of the messages;
- Basic, accurate information about the risks of adolescent sexual activity and about methods of avoiding intercourse and using protection against pregnancy and STIs;
- Activities addressing social pressures that influence sexual behavior;
- Provides role modeling and practice communication, negotiation, and communication skills;
- Varied, participatory teaching methods that encourage participants to personalize the information;
- Incorporates behavioral goals, teaching methods, and materials that are appropriate to the age, sexual experience, and culture of the students;
- Sufficient duration to cover key topics and complete important activities; and
- Teachers and/or peer leaders who believe in the program and are adequately trained.
Program delivery may be non-didactic and thus more effectively reach adolescents; for example, seminars, drama events, musical presentations, sports.
Setting universally appropriate criteria is difficult because of cultural and socio-economic differences across and within countries. These criteria, developed from programs in the U.S., may not be appropriate in some other countries.
policy, access, quality, adolescent, communication