Comprehensive Sexuality Education
1. Context and background
Kiribati has a mostly young population, under the age of 25 years. Kiribati has high mortality rates for newborns, infants, and children under the age of 5 years, as well as a high maternal mortality rate. While the fertility rate has declined steadily recently, relatively high rates of population growth are still a challenge.
The National Curricula uses the term Health Education as part of the Personal Development subject area to address sexuality education in school settings. According to UNFPA 2021, comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in the Pacific region is also known as Family Life Education.
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: 2004
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: 1995
Commits to the right to access appropriate health-related information.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Ratification date: 2013
Commits to the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities.
At the regional level, Kiribati has committed to a number of regional agreements to promote sexual and reproductive health (SRH) in the Pacific. These include the regional Moana Declaration (2013) that recognizes the crucial role parliamentarians play in advocating for the implementation of the International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (1994). The Moana Declaration saw Pacific countries commit to the integration of SRH into national development strategies, health plans and budgets. Kiribati has also endorsed the Pacific Youth Development Framework 2014-2023 (The Pacific Community, 2015), the Pacific Sexual Health and Well-being Shared Agenda 2015-2019, and the 2015 KAILA! Pacific Voice for Action on Agenda 2030: Strengthening Climate Change Resilience through women’s, children’s and adolescent health.
3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education
Regarding the national laws and policies related to CSE in Kiribati, the Constitution of Kiribati (1979) states that every person is entitled to fundamental rights and freedoms, whatever their sex, race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, or creed. However, the Constitution does not address discrimination based on gender, marital status, sexual orientation, or disability.
The 2013 Education Act prohibits the disciplining of students if they are pregnant or a parent.
One of the strategic objectives of the Ministry of Health and Medical Services Strategic Plan 2016-2019 is to increase access to, and the use of, high-quality, comprehensive family planning services, especially for vulnerable populations, including women whose health and well-being are at risk if they become pregnant.
The Kiribati Development Plan 2020-2023 focuses on six key priority areas, one of which is improving health. Strategies for this priority area include ‘Improve reproductive maternal, newborn, child, and adolescent health, health promotion, and nutrition’.
The Kiribati 20-year Vision 2016-2036 is the long-term development blueprint for Kiribati. Known as KV20, the document covers the challenge of population growth and discusses initiatives such as the Reproductive, Maternal, Neonatal, Child and Adolescence Health Programme.
In the Kiribati-WHO Country Cooperation Strategy 2018-2022, one of the national strategic priorities is to support national efforts to sustain health gains, further reduce disease and death from communicable and non-communicable diseases and other conditions, and reduce risk factors and vulnerabilities of the population. This includes supporting the improvement of reproductive, maternal, neonatal, child and adolescent health, and improving and sustaining levels of antenatal and postnatal immunization.
Among the objectives of the Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework related to CSE are the following: to possess the knowledge and skills necessary to maintain a safe and healthy lifestyle; to develop healthy Thiself-concepts and decision-making skills that will enable learners to identify and respond to the value systems of their culture, while being appreciative of and respectful of those different from their own.
Mandatory or optional
There is no CSE programme in Kiribati. The 2013 Education Act mandates that schools must adhere to the national education framework, which is the Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework. While the Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework does not specifically mandate the integration of CSE into the curricula, certain aspects of CSE are incorporated into mandatory subjects. The Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework specify five essential learning areas. One area is Personal Development, which focuses on the development and growth of the child physically, socially, emotionally, culturally, intellectually and spiritually.
Model of delivery
The Personal Development area has three components – health education, physical education, and moral education, and certain components of CSE are delivered through this learning area. According to the Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework, students will undertake study in this learning area throughout their schooling. It will start with an integrated approach in the early years, involving strategies such as modelling, story-telling, drama and games. As students progress through schooling, they will study the specific subjects of healthy living at the primary level, and physical education and social education at the secondary level. While this learning area is relevant to the whole school curriculum, these subjects will focus on specific knowledge, understanding, skills, and attitudes related to health and immunization, and physical and moral education.
Comprehensiveness of content
As prescribed by the Kiribati National Curriculum and Assessment Framework, the focus of each component of the Personal Development learning area is described below.
Physical education: building confidence in students’ physical abilities and capabilities. Students are encouraged to: take responsibility for achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, developing healthy habits of lifelong physical activity, making decisions to avoid physical injury and minimizing threats to health and physical well-being, participating in individual and team activities to improve physical skills and fitness, developing a wide range of motor skills, and understanding the importance of disciplined training, competition, and teamwork.
Moral education: developing the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students need to make informed decisions about their lifestyles. These include the values of family, culture and religion to which they belong, the values identified in the Kiribati constitution, and the common set of values widely shared by I-Kiribati communities. Students are encouraged to: learn the importance of spiritual, moral and cultural health; develop a strong sense of identity and self-respect as well as respect for others; appreciate differences in individuals, cultures, religions, situations and contexts; learn appropriate behaviour; and develop good interpersonal skills to respond appropriately in challenging and conflict situations, and in times of personal stress and social pressure.
Health education: learning about the social, biological and physical environments in which people, families and communities grow and develop, and the strategies that enhance this growth and development. Students are encouraged to: build healthy relationships in different contexts (family, peer-groups, friendships, sexual relationships, sport, community, or work team); understand how community values, attitudes and standards of behaviours are important for personal and community health; understand the challenges, risks and safety issues of behaviours that impact on personal and community health and safety, such as violence, substance abuse and sexual behaviours; undertake activities that are designed to promote health and to prevent disease and the contribution of these to the health of individuals and the community; and develop healthy practices in relation to nutrition, food safety, personal hygiene and environmental health.
The Ministry of Education has created Teacher Guides to assist subject-specialist instructors in implementing the healthy living subject. The syllabus describes the subject's learning objectives, the learning outcome of the topics or units, and the knowledge and abilities students will acquire. The guidebooks provide each course's learning goals, as well as background information, requirements for planning and teaching, and suggested teaching and evaluation procedures.
There is an ongoing review of pre-service teacher training to integrate CSE. Through UNFPA support, CSE has also been integrated into the continuous professional development package for in-service teachers led by associate lecturers from the Kiribati Teacher College.
As pre-training for teachers, the Kiribati Teacher College (KTC), which is managed by the Ministry of Education, includes specific classes for teacher training in physical education and health, and health and physical education curriculum and pedagogy.
No information was found on systems of referrals by schools to health clinics, counselling on SHR, information about obtaining contraceptives, or access to contraceptives.
4.1 Responsible ministries
The Ministry of Education must approve the national educational framework that sets national standards for the curricula and approves syllabuses for subject areas and year levels. However, the Ministry of Health and Medical Services is responsible for the provision of healthcare services, and the development, implementation and monitoring of health policy (including in relation to SRH).
4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy
No information was found.
4.3. Government budget allocation
No information was found.
5. Monitoring and reporting
Students' achievements in healthy living are continuously evaluated and reflected upon as part of the course's assessment. According to the Teachers Guide, the assessment includes observing and documenting students' learning during classroom activities and reporting to students and their parents or guardians. The process involves: observing students at work; examining students’ work samples to determine what they can do; identifying further teaching and learning needs from that information; recording what the students can and cannot do; planning for future learning using the assessment information; discussing with students their assessment results and ways to improve; and reporting or communicating with parents or guardians about their children's assessment results. The Teachers Guide elaborates, ‘the instructor must preserve records and present pertinent records of student growth. Tasks and activities that provide evidence of accomplishing or failing to achieve a certain learning objective must be shared with students, parents, and instructors.’ The Ministry of Education has adopted a framework for school-based assessment. The framework's purpose is to advise the system on the suitable and appropriate use of school-based assessment.
In 2020, Kiribati's first-ever countrywide statistics, the Kiribati Social Development Indicator Survey was published in an effort to boost the country's progress in reaching national goals and meeting global obligations to promote the welfare of women and children. The Survey supported the Government of Kiribati in collecting accurate data for measuring progress in national priority areas such as health, education, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene.