Comprehensive Sexuality Education

 1. Context and background

2. Terminology

3. Laws and policies

4. Governance

5. Monitoring and reporting


1. Context and background

Nearly one-third of the Senegalese population is between the ages of 10 and 24 – the most common sexually active age bracket. Youth with little sexual education are at risk for unintended pregnancies, HIV, and other STIs. Teenage sexual health is an important public and social health concern in Senegal. Access to information on health, particularly sexual and reproductive health, is limited for adolescents. Senegal is marked by high rates of sexual engagement and pregnancies at a young age and low contraception use among young people.

The cultural context of Senegal is characterized by a strong influence of traditional cultural values, such as the condemnation of premarital relations, the inequality of male-female power in the field of sexuality, tight control of female sexuality and practices based on cultural and religious beliefs. There has been controversy surrounding the introduction of sexual and reproductive education programmes in schools, especially from teachers' unions, Islamic organizations and religious families.

In 1990, Senegal implemented sexuality education in schools under the Family Life Education programme (Éducation à la Vie Familiale et Éducation en matière de Population). The Family Life Education/Population Education (Éducation à la Vie Familiale/Éducation en matière de Population) pilot project was launched by the Ministry of Education in 1990 to enhance students' understanding of the social, economic, and environmental factors of population development. In 1994, the national Ministry of Education approved a pilot project for lower and upper secondary schools called the Project to strengthen Family Life Education in middle and secondary schools in Senegal (Projet de renforcement de l'Éducation à la Vie Familiale dans les établissements d'enseignement moyen et secondaire du Sénégal). The national Ministry of Education appointed a local non-governmental organization, Groupe pour l'Étude et l'Enseignement de la Population, to oversee the pilot project, which was a landmark collaboration between the Government and civil society in Senegal. Currently, it is included in cross-curricular topics within the elementary and high school national curriculum (Chau et al,. 2016).


2. Terminology

While no formal terminology was found, the terms 'sexuality education', 'family life education' and 'reproductive health education' have been used. 


3. Laws and policies

3.1. Relevant international/regional agreements to which Senegal 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: 2010

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


International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Ratification date: 1978

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


UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education

Ratification date: 1967

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.


3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education

Law No. 91-22 of 1991 on the trajectory of national education does not specify the inclusion of sexuality education in the curriculum. It suggests that the purpose of national education is to enable the holistic development of students. In addition, it incorporates social, moral, and civic education into the elementary and middle school curriculum.

The Population Policy Declaration, launched in 1988, included the reproductive health of adolescents for the first time. In 1990, the Ministry of Education introduced the Education for Family Life and Population Education Project (Éducation à la Vie Familiale et Éducation en matière de Population EVF/EmP) to increase elementary pupils’ knowledge and skills regarding the social, economic and environmental determinants of population growth. To meet the needs of secondary school students, in 1994, the programme started working in collaboration with the non-governmental organization GEEP (Group of Study and Education on the Population) with the objective of deepening the knowledge acquired in elementary school. To complement these two projects and meet the needs of children in Koranic schools, a family education and Daraa pilot project was set up in 2003.

In 2005, the Government launched the National Strategy for Adolescent/Youth Health in collaboration with different stakeholders. Its objectives included improving the access of adolescents and young people to services adapted to their needs, helping adolescents to behave responsibly and make appropriate decisions, and creating a social, legislative and regulatory environment conducive to the promotion of health in general, and reproductive health in particular. This strategy was followed by the Strategic Plan for Sexual Health and Reproduction of Young People (2014- 2018), which integrated rights related to: security; privacy; confidentiality, comfort and opinion; early and unintended pregnancy; fertility; knowledge and the use of contraceptive methods; unsafe abortions; infanticide; STIs and HIV; mental health; substance use; malaise; suicide; delinquency; violence; and physical and emotional wellbeing.

The General Policy Letter for the Education and Training Sectors 2018- 2030 aims to eliminate disparities between boys and girls and promote an inclusive social model, which includes: the rule of law; good governance; democracy; respect for fundamental human rights and freedoms; citizen participation, cooperation and solidarity; social justice and human-centered development; gender equality and the empowerment of girls and women; and social protection and health for all. The Policy also proposes the creation of a continuous 10-year curriculum, with core skills organized into five main spheres of development: i): communication skills; ii): mathematical, scientific and technological skills; iii) skills to prepare for the world of work; iv) cultural, social and citizenship skills; and v): personal development skills.

The Quality, Equity and Transparency Improvement Programme 2018–2030 aims to secure a 10-year basic education commitment (primary and middle cycles) with the main objective of promoting equitable access to quality education. One objective of the policy is to strengthen access, retention and success of girls and women in education and training.

The Connecting 4 Life Programme, launched in 2014 by Oxfam and Stop Aids Now in collaboration with the Senegalese Ministry of Education, helps teenagers to learn about sexuality and reproductive health, including birth control and HIV. All the information provided takes into account the social and cultural context of the country. The project uses the internet and communication technology to teach students through web-based narratives and text communication, with trained counsellors. The Programme offers a mobile phone platform that provides free 'on-demand' sexual and reproductive health (SRH) information and services through counsellors, to whom young people can send text messages.

Senegal developed a National Strategic Plan for Adolescent and Youth SRH rights (2014–2018) and a Reproductive Health Action Plan for 2012–2015 (Plan d’action national de Planification Familiale 2012–2015).

Since the beginning of the 2017 school year, the Division for School Health of the Ministry of Education has been piloting a partnership with Marie Stopes International, an international non-governmental organization, to provide services in certain school infirmaries. There are a number of organizations in the country that are active in adolescent and youth SRH and rights, whose contributions range from running specific campaigns to participating in the development of the comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programme.


3.3. Curricula

Mandatory or optional

Senegal introduced the Family Life Education (Éducation à la Vie Familiale et Éducation en matière de Population EVF/EmP), into school curricula in 1990. Family life education clubs are extra-curricular and optional.

Model of delivery

Education for Family Life is integrated into supporting subjects in primary education. In secondary school, a similar programme also includes Education for Family Life/Education in Population clubs in schools.

Aspects of sexuality education are included in the Sciences of Life and Earth (sciences de la vie et de la Terre) and the Family and Social Economy (l’économie familiale et sociale) curricula. 

Comprehensiveness of content

The content is mainly based on preventing risky behaviour. L’économie familiale et sociale addresses a variety of issues including hygiene, transformation during puberty and the functioning of the reproductive system, anatomy and physiology of the genitals, STIs and AIDS, early pregnancy, abortion, childbirth and family planning. Sciences de la vie et de la Terre includes topics such as human reproduction, biological sex differences during childhood and puberty, male and female genitalia, the ovarian cycle in women, maternity, reproduction control (birth spacing and contraception), cell division, problems related to fertilization, embryonic life, foetal life, childbirth and some contraceptive methods.

Learning resources

The Education for Family Life/Education in Population programme has developed instructional materials.


3.4. Teachers

No information was found on teacher preparedness and capacity building for topics on sexuality education topics. Regional education staff training centres are responsible for initial and continued training of pre-school, primary and middle school teachers, non-formal education staff, and administrative and technical staff. Trainee teachers follow a nine-month programme after completing secondary or higher education and sit an entrance examination. There is a professional development institute in each region. The MEN’s Direction de la Formation et de la Communication (Training and Communication Department) is responsible for the coordination of all the centres (GEM 2022).

No information was found on initial teacher training on sexuality education. The Faculty of Science and Technology of Education and Training is attached to Cheikh Anta Diop University in Dakar. It is responsible for training secondary school teachers in all disciplines. Its main mission is to teach and research the fundamental disciplines of education and didactics, ensure the initial and continuous training of teachers and trainers, and provide initial and continuous training to supervisors and managers in education and in the design, production and evaluation of teaching materials (GEM 2022).


3.5. Schools

School health services have been in place in Senegal since 1942. School health includes skills-based health education, the creation of a healthy and secure environment, and offering services for the treatment of tuberculosis, malaria, neglected tropical diseases, STIs and HIV, and so on. These are available as branches of some public health clinics, depending on the available infrastructure and personnel. However, insufficient numbers of health providers and inadequate infrastructure frequently affect the provision of school health services.

In addition, since 1992, the Teenage Counselling Centres of the Ministry of Youth offer prevention services (including through talks, beach events, telephone listening, films, theatre, sporting events, brochures and posters), as well as psycho-social support, medical services provided by a midwife, and voluntary screening.


4. Governance

4.1 Responsible ministries

In Senegal, the Ministry of Education prepares and implements education and training policy defined by the head of state. It is also responsible for public education management and the preparation and application of the private education policy, from pre-school to general secondary – except for responsibilities that are devolved to local authorities. The Health Coalition of Adolescent Reproduction and Youth, established in 2012, comprises the Ministry of Education, United Nations agencies and civil society organizations. The coalition supports the education sector in the integration of CSE into the curricula, and oversees the coordination of the identification of strategic areas for implementing and scaling up CSE. Collaboration between the national ministries of health and education was an important element in the introduction of sexuality education in schools. International non-governmental organizations and agencies in the United Nations system, including UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank, provided additional support.

4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy

Regarding the implementation of the Family Life Education (Éducation à la Vie Familiale et Éducation en matière de Population EVF/EmP) Programme, teachers and school principals had the autonomy to choose the extent of content integration into carrier subjects.

4.3. Government budget allocation

No information was found.


5. Monitoring and reporting

There are five main types of student learning assessments in Senegal: (i) continual evaluations carried out by schools (classwork); (ii) standardized evaluations initiated by IEFs (Inspection de l'éducation et de la Formation) and AIs; (iii) the CFEE (le Certificat de fin d’études élémentaires) and BFEM (le Brevet de fin d’études moyennes); (iv) the SNERS (Système national d'évaluation des rendements scolaires), administered by the Institut National d’étude et d’action pour le développement de l’éducation (INEADE, National Research and Action Institute for Education Development); and (v) international evaluations such as the CONFEMEN Programme for Education System Analysis (PASEC), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) and the World Bank Service Delivery Indicators (SDIs) (GEM 2022).

The National Report on the State of Education presents a detailed descriptive analysis of the education system, which has been produced annually since 2013. The report does not provide exact numbers about the implementation or awareness of sexual education in schools. The study does include gender-specific data, as well as repetition and dropout rates.

The Quality, Equity and Transparency Improvement Programme (2018–2030) aims to establish a national quality management system for monitoring, periodic evaluation and continuous improvement of learning and integration for young people. 

Última modificación:

Mié, 01/03/2023 - 17:41