Comprehensive Sexuality Education

1. Context and background

2. Terminology

3. Laws and policies

4. Governance

5. Monitoring and reporting


1. Context and background

There is strong opposition to sexuality education in Serbia from the Ministry of Education, teachers and other educational professionals, as well as parents. The main arguments against it are related to the presumed ‘inappropriateness’ of the topics for youth.


2. Terminology

No information was found.


3. Laws and policies

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



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

Ratification date: 2001 

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: 2001 

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

Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) 

Ratification date: 2009 

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

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 

Ratification date: 2001 

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: 2001 


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

Serbia did not participate in the ICPD 

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

3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education

There is no national law or policy specifically on sexuality education in Serbia. However, policies and strategic documents (such as legislation on health protection, health insurance and public health and the National Program for Sexual and Reproductive Health) recognize the importance of prevention, especially that which is related to the development and adoption of healthy lifestyles, while education is recognized as the main field of action. The concept of a healthy lifestyle is highlighted as a priority, and health education is considered a valuable tool for attaining this.

The legal basis regulating reproductive health in Serbia consists of two laws: the Law on Health Care (2019) and the Law on Health Insurance (2019). However, neither of these two laws mentions sexuality education. The Public Health Strategy in the Republic of Serbia 2018-2026 mentions reproductive health, but not sexuality education. The National Program for Preservation and Improvement of Sexual and Reproductive Health of the Citizens of the Republic of Serbia (2017) states that education for safe sexual and reproductive behaviour is not systematically addressed in Serbia and that the protection of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) will be available to all without exception. One way of ensuring this is the development of a system of counselling for the protection of the SRH of adolescents. This is being planned, and it is understood that counselling provision would be separate from school and linked to the health system. Another related priority is motivating parents, guardians, families, and professionals from the education system to support adolescents in making informed and safe decisions related to their SRH.

The Birth Encouragement Strategy recognizes the need for the introduction of sexuality education, in terms of acquiring the ability to preserve and improve general and reproductive health. The strategy also refers to the Law on the Fundamentals of the Education System (2017) and calls for measures to introduce education in schools through the enrichment of curricula, training of existing teaching staff, and the development of educational material for students from both primary and secondary schools.

In 2016, the Ministry of Education and the Incest Trauma Centre-Belgrade presented an educational package against sexual assault. This document addressed diverse types of sexual violence against minors. It also provided guidance for teachers on how to approach issues of body image, sexuality, wanted and unwanted physical contact, using the appropriate discourse, raising awareness about gender and sexual-based violence, how to identify it, and what steps to take to prevent it or report it. The package was comprehensive and comprised age-sensitive approaches from kindergarten to adolescents. However, in 2017, the package was dropped by the Ministry of Education as conservative Serbian academics and the media ignited the debate around this programme, accusing the toolkit of pathologizing and sexualizing children, promoting homosexualization, encouraging children to adopt deviant sexual behaviour, and undermining religious values.

A few sexuality-education curricula have been developed, mostly by non-governmental organizations and educational and medical professionals.


3.3. Curricula

Mandatory or optional

Legislation on education, elementary education and secondary school education states the necessity to promote a healthy lifestyle in schools and to develop preventative programmes aimed at reducing risky behaviour. According to these laws, schools are obligated to develop prevention programmes focusing on risky health behaviours. In addition, schools must develop a programme of protection against violence and a programme promoting health protection. These programmes can be developed across the curricula (in mandatory or optional subjects), through extra-curricular programmes or national campaigns.

Model of delivery

Health education as a separate school subject does not exist. Elements of health protection programmes are fragmented in school programmes, and are delivered through carrier subjects and extra-curricular activities. 

Learning resources

There are no teaching materials or guidelines available, except for those that were developed during a pilot project that was run in Vojvodina (see the Governance section).


3.4. Teachers

Professional training for teachers is in place, but it is not mandatory.

3.5. Schools

According to 2011 data, there are over 35 counselling centres for family planning in public health centres across Serbia. Services focus on counselling on STIs, contraceptive methods and sexual education. They may also organize workshops. Two types of counselling are provided for young people: counselling for older minors, and developmental counselling for pre-school children and children with developmental problems. Private providers and non-governmental organizations usually provide the services at the local level. The Youth Counselling Centres provide services free of charge (except for STI treatment) and are located near schools or places where adolescents gather for entertainment, with professional staff trained to work with minors at suitable times of the day.


4. Governance

4.1 Responsible ministries

The Ministry of Education is responsible for the approval and provision of sexuality education, but some programmes may be approved (and have been approved) at the provincial/regional/local level, An example of one such programme is ‘Health Education on Reproductive Health’, which was developed by the Provincial Secretary for Sports and Youth of the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina. The programme ran from 2012 to 2015, but it did not continue due to the lack of political will and opposition to it.

4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy

Schools have the autonomy to implement and develop strategic and annual school plans.

4.3. Government budget allocation

No information was found.


5. Monitoring and reporting

According to a CEDAW report, in 2019, as part of the global Multiple Indicator Cluster Surveys programme, the Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia conducted the Survey of Multiple Indicators of the Position of Women and Children in Serbia 2019 and the Survey of Multiple Indicators of the Position of Women and Children in Roma Settlements in Serbia 2019. Four questionnaires were used during the research. A special individual questionnaire for women aged 15-49 covered the following areas: data on women, fertility, whether the last birth was wanted, maternal and new-born health, contraception, unmet needs, attitudes towards violence in the family, victimization, marriage/union, reproductive health decisions, sexual behaviour, and life satisfaction.

Last modified:

Wed, 01/03/2023 - 20:36