Comprehensive Sexuality Education

1. Context and background

2. Terminology

3. Laws and policies

4. Governance

5. Monitoring and reporting


1. Context and background

In Guinea Bissau, more than half of the population is under the age of 25. Both the maternal mortality rate and infant mortality rate are high, though these are somewhat offset by the high fertility rate and growing youth population. More than half of the population lives further than five kilometres from their nearest health facility, and families contribute to half of the total health expenditure. The prevalence of early childbearing, births outside of health care facilities, narrow birth spacing, and a shortage of medicines and supplies contribute to the country’s maternal mortality rate as one of the highest in the world. The prevalence of contraceptive use is low, although this has risen in recent years. The low usage of modern contraceptives has had negative implications for all women of child-bearing age, constraining their ability to avoid unwanted pregnancy, postpone or adequately space births. Contraceptive prevalence is much higher among sexually active and single women. While female genital mutilation and cutting is still practiced, the prevalence has decreased significantly in recent years.  

The issues of sexuality and puberty are often taboo. Communities pass on information based on tradition and ethnic or religious beliefs through initiation ceremonies. According to local customs, women who want to seek advice or treatment from a medical facility are required to ask their husbands for permission. HIV is a national concern; however, the country relies almost entirely on external financial assistance for the procurement of essential HIV drugs and other medicines and vaccines for STIs. The large majority of youth are unable to correctly identify ways of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV. The education system in Guinea-Bissau lacks long-term strategic vision, proper funding, and organization. However, there has been significant improvement. While in the past, only half of adults in the country were literate, recent years have seen a significant increase in youth literacy. The most recent Education Sector Plan (2017-2025) focuses on building on the education system’s basic needs with goals to increase student attendance, improve teacher training, and improve school infrastructure and conditions. 



2. Terminology

A formal definition for 'sexuality education' was not found. However, the Reproductive Health and Family Planning Law defines 'reproductive health' as 'the general physical, mental and social well-being of the human person, including the genital system and its functions and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity'. 

'Reproductive health services' is defined as a 'set of methods, techniques and services that contribute to health and well-being in terms of procreation, preventing and solving all problems that may arise in this area. This term also covers health in matter of sexuality that aims to improve the quality of life and interpersonal relationships, not just occasionally providing care related to procreation and sexually transmitted diseases.' Sexuality education is included within 'reproductive health services'.  


3. Laws and policies

3.1. Relevant international/regional agreements to which Guinea-Bissau is a signatory



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

Ratification date: 1985 


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: 1990 

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

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 

Ratification date: 2014 

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

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Accession date: 1992 

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

UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education 

Not ratified 

Reaffirms that education is a human right. It highlights states' obligations to ensure free and compulsory education, bans any form of discrimination and promotes equality of educational opportunity.

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


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. 


3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education

The 2010 Basic Education Law of Guinea-Bissaumandates that one of the specific objectives of education is to guarantee equal opportunities for both sexes. Sexual and reproductive education is covered in basic education.  

The 2011-2015 National Operational Plan to Accelerate Child and Maternal Mortality Reduction promoted interventions in integrated health, nutrition, HIV support; and water, sanitation and hygiene; as well as service decentralization for some of the hardest-to-reach communities. 

The 2008-2017 National Health Development Plan sought to improve the health outcomes of the population through reinforcing governance and improving infrastructure, equipment, human resources and pharmaceuticals. 

The 2010 Reproductive Health and Family Planning Law defines reproductive health services as including guidance, information, education, communication, research and advice, means, methods and in general all services in matters of family planning and sexual and reproductive health (SRH). The Law also seeks to prevent and manage abortion complications in inappropriate facilities as well as treat and prevent STIs and HIV. Article 6 of the Law, on the right to information and education, states that 'any individual or couple has the right to information, education and the necessary means regarding the advantages, risks and effectiveness of all birth control methods'. Article 17 mandates the Government and non-governmental organizations to expand and improve counselling, education and family planning services. The Law guarantees all individuals' equal rights and dignity in reproductive health. 

The 2015–20 Strategic Plan (‘Terra Ranka') seeks to improve the overall education sector, strengthening the quality of education at the primary, secondary, technical and higher education and vocational training levels. The Plan also aims to strengthens the health system and ensure that the Family Planning Programme is integrated into reproductive health interventions.  

Other relevant policies include: the HIV Strategic Plan; the National Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescent Health Policy, which has been revised and validated for the period 2019-2024; the National HIV and AIDS Policy and Strategic Plan for the Education Sector; and Letter of Education Policy 2009-2020.  


3.3. Curricula

Mandatory or optional

No information was found. 

Model of delivery

The Education Sector Plan 2017-2025 states that a unified curriculum needs to be adopted. However, the current curriculum could not be found during the research process. 

Comprehensiveness of content

No information was found. 

Learning resources

The 2015–20 Strategic Plan (‘Terra Ranka')  aims to provide pupils with textbooks and educational materials and increase overall access to materials. Information on materials specifically related to sexuality education was not found. 


3.4. Teachers

According to the Education Sector Plan 2017-2025, the Ministry of Education is responsible for initial teacher training and continuing education for teachers. The Plan calls for the development of statutes and regulations for all teacher training institutions. The practical courses appear to focus on teachers' skills in Portuguese and mathematics. No information was found on teacher training in relation to reproductive health education or sexuality education. The 2015-20 Strategic Plan (‘Terra Ranka') also aims to improve teacher training through formalizing the trainer course and introducing and expanding the use of new information and communication technologies as part of teaching methodology, with continuous training of teachers and professors.

Information was not found on whether teachers are mandated to be trained on the provision and delivery of sexuality education either, as part of in-service or pre-service training.


3.5. Schools

No information was found.  


4. Governance

4.1 Responsible ministries

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the education sector in Guinea-Bissau. The Ministry of Women, Family and Social Cohesion, the National AIDS Commission and the Ministry of Health contribute to promoting gender equality, HIV & AIDs prevention, and reproductive health. 

4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy

No information was found. 

4.3. Government budget allocation

According to the Education Sector Plan (2017-2025), the Government seeks to invest up to 15% of GDP in the education sector. The Government also seeks to apply for additional funding from the Global Partnership for Education and the World Bank to fill the remaining deficit. Information specifically covering the funding of sexuality education could not be found.


5. Monitoring and reporting

Schools in Guinea-Bissau undergo quarterly evaluations on standardized subjects by sector, under the supervision of the Ministry of Education. No information could be found on whether sexuality education content is monitored or evaluated.  

Última modificación:

Vie, 17/02/2023 - 17:30