Comprehensive Sexuality Education

1. Context and background

2. Terminology

3. Laws and policies

4. Governance

5. Monitoring and reporting


1. Context and background

The Maldives consists of about 1,190 coral islands in the Indian Ocean, 16% of which are inhabited. Young people under the age of 25 make up about half of the population. The rate of pregnancy among adolescent and unmarried young people and the rate of unsafe abortions are noted concerns for the Government. Abortion complications are one of the main causes of maternal death. According to the Maldives Demographic Health Survey, the use of contraceptives decreased from 1999 to 2009.

The first health-related content in education with some information on sexual health was pledged in the 100-day road map in the year 2014. The new curriculum framework, developed in 2015 by the National Institute of Education, includes a health and well-being strand. This includes a focus on nutrition, physical activity and mental well-being, with small sections related to sexual health, such as changes in the body during puberty. However, according to the 2016-2025 Health Master Plan, due to widely prevailing religious beliefs in society, school health programmes still face challenges in the of needs-based sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and support for adolescents.


2. Terminology

A definition of sexuality education was not found. The term ‘life-skills education’ is often used and includes aspects of reproductive health education. ‘Life-skills education’ is not defined, but it can be found in the 2015 new curriculum framework, the 2014 National Reproductive Strategy, the 2016-2025 Health Master Plan, the 2006 Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS, and the Maldives Education Sector Plan (2019-2023).


3. Laws and policies

3.1. Relevant international/regional agreements to which the country is a signatory



Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)

Ratification date: 1993

Acknowledges the need to guarantee sexuality education free from discrimination and stereotypes, conveying gender equality values.


Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

Ratification date: 1991

Commits to the right to access appropriate health-related information.


Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)

Ratification date: 2010

Commits to the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities.


International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Ratification date: 2006

Acknowledges that the right to sexual and reproductive health is an integral part of the right to health.


The 1994 International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action

Attended the conference

Calls for sexuality education, counselling and support mechanisms for adolescents, and identifies essential topics.


UN General Assembly 2016 Political Declaration on HIV and AIDS

Includes commitments and calls to scale up and/or attention to scientifically accurate age- and culturally appropriate comprehensive sexuality education.


Commission on the Status of Women 2016 Resolution on Women, the Girl Child and HIV and AIDS

Includes commitments to make universally accessible and available quality comprehensive sexual and reproductive health-care services, commodities, information and education.




The Asia and Pacific Ministerial Declaration on Population and Development (2013) (Asia Pacific)

Commits to the design, funding and implementation of ‘comprehensive sexuality education and life skills’ programmes that ‘provide accurate information on human sexuality, gender equality, human rights, relationships, and sexual and reproductive health, while recognizing the role and responsibilities of parents.



3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education

The Constitution of the Maldives and the 2016 Gender Equality Act guarantee rights and freedoms to all individuals as well as equal protection and benefit before the law. They both guarantee the right to education. The Gender Equality Act states that education institutions have the responsibility to ‘equally provide boys and girls with education related to adolescent health’. The Act also prohibits discrimination against women who are pregnant or may become pregnant. Women are also guaranteed the right to information on health, counselling and family planning services. Health institutions have the responsibility to provide equal service and information about family planning to both men and women.

The 2020 Education Act confers on the state the responsibility to develop an education system that teaches good health in an equitable way and establishes mechanisms to supervise the health of the pupils.

The 2004 Health Promoting Schools Policy mentions school health education and aims for students to have a basic understanding, appropriate to their age, of sexual and emotional health. The 2010 School Health Policy conceptualized the subject Health and Wellbeing, which was implemented in the 2015 National Curriculum Framework.

There have been several iterations of the National Reproductive Health Strategy since the first one in 2005-2007. All versions recognize reproductive health as a crucial component of general health. In the second Strategy, which ran from 2008-2013, the focus shifted to a continuum of care, which included responding to reproductive health needs during adolescence. The 2014-2018 National Reproductive Health Strategy includes an objective to ‘collaborate with the education sector in implementing family-life/life-skills education or sexuality education in at least 75% of schools and in provision of adolescent-friendly health services’. The 2006-2015 Health Master Plan includes indicators related to adolescent knowledge on contraceptives and the prevention of STIs and HIV. The 2016-2025 Health Master Plan also mentions providing life-skills education in the school system and adolescent-friendly health services as strategies to promote safe sexual and reproductive health (SRH) behaviours and practices among adolescents and youth.

According to the Maldives Education Sector Plan (2019-2023), the Maldives provides life-skills based HIV education only and does not provide sexuality education. The sector plan was developed under SDG principles such as inclusion and equity. The gender equality component recognizes that girls ‘may be subject to gender-based violence, child marriage, early pregnancy and a heavy load of household chores’.

The 2022 National guideline on Antenatal and Postnatal Care in the Maldives lists 12 areas to be addressed in preconception care. ‘Providing age-appropriate comprehensive sexuality education and services’ is noted as a strategy for preventing STIs.


3.3. Curricula

Mandatory or optional

There is no sexuality education curriculum in the Maldives, although aspects of reproductive health education are incorporated into the Health and Wellbeing curriculum.

Model of delivery

The 2015 National Curriculum Framework places SRH education topics within the Health and Wellbeing learning area. This learning area is made up of three strands: physical well-being, social well-being, and mental and emotional wellbeing.

A youth health café in Male’ provides health education and referrals to health clinics and non-governmental organizations for reproductive health services.

Comprehensiveness of content

The Health and Physical Education Syllabus provides more details in the Physical Wellbeing strand and the Growth, Development and Health Awareness strand, where students learn about external body parts and changes that occur in the body during puberty as well as personal safety skills and gender roles. Indicators include the ability to ‘recognize the differences between males and females... on the basis of physiology’ and to be able to ‘recognize and deal with feelings of sexuality’. Students also learn to differentiate between ‘good touch’ and ‘bad touch’. They learn to recognize and report forms of abuse such as sexual, physical, verbal, emotional and substance abuse. In relation to gender, students learn how personal, cultural, and community beliefs lead to differences in gender roles. Students are also to discuss ‘community views and standards concerning appropriate and acceptable gender roles’.

Learning resources

The Ministry of Education provides lesson plans for teachers for Health and Physical Education for grades 1, 2, and 3.


3.4. Teachers

In the 2020 Education Act teachers are charged with encouraging children to care for and maintain their own health and that of other people. The 2006 Strategic Plan for Prevention and Control of HIV/AIDS mentions training trainers in life-skills education. The 2010 School Health Policy states that ministries are responsible for ensuring that training programmes are developed and provided to teachers, school health officers and counsellors to ‘build their knowledge and competency to deliver skill-based health education, and behaviour change programmes using participatory teaching and learning methodologies’. (No further details on this were found.)


3.5. Schools

The 2014-2018 National Reproductive Health Strategy plans for the improvement of life-skills education and connecting it with adolescent-friendly health service delivery points. No other information was found.


4. Governance

4.1 Responsible ministries

According to the 2010 School Health Policy, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health and Family are responsible for delivering skills-based education and providing training to those responsible for delivery.

The Ministry of Health and Gender, through the 2012 Health Protection Act, directs and oversees measures to protect and maintain public health as well as increasing the awareness of citizens. The Health Protection Agency is a key actor in reproductive health programmes.

4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy

No information was found.

4.3. Government budget allocation

Every year, according to the Gender Equality Act, the Ministry of Health and Gender is allocated sufficient funds for ‘establishing gender equality, preventing gender-based violence against women, and helping gender-based violence victims’. Funding for SRH is provided through the National Reproductive Strategy. The Ministry of Health and Gender also provides comprehensive and highly subsidized health services to citizens.

There is no separate funding allocated for sexuality education.


5. Monitoring and reporting

According to the Maldives Education Sector Plan 2019-2023, the Ministry of Education developed a Monitoring and Evaluation Framework based on most targets and indicators of SDG 4. The Maldives Education Management Information System (MEMIS) is responsible for the monitoring of education and reporting on it.

The 2014-2018 National Reproductive Health Strategy monitors the percentage of schools that have implemented life-skills education and that are linked to adolescent-friendly health service delivery points.

No information was found regarding government monitoring and reporting mechanisms of sexuality education.

Last modified:

Fri, 17/03/2023 - 10:29