Discussions around sexuality education in Cameroon have been initiated due to greater sensitization about HIV & AIDS. Action was first taken in 2007 through an inter-ministerial decree that aimed to introduce a programme on education for family life, education on the population, and the prevention of HIV & AIDS. Nevertheless, there has been some reluctance at the local level to embrace open discussions about sexuality education.
Comprehensive knowledge about HIV is particularly low among young girls and adolescents. Cameroon ranks 15th worldwide in terms of the rate of HIV adult morbidity. Breast ironing and female genital mutilation are practised. Child marriage is high among adolescents. 18.6% of girls aged 15-19 are currently married or in unions and the proportion is higher among girls in rural areas. Of young women in the 20-24 age range, 10.7% were married or in a union before the age of 15, and 20.8% were married before the age of 18. The rate of early pregnancy is high, with 28.3% of women aged 20-24 giving birth before the age of 18.
Sexuality education is referred to as 'holistic sexuality education' (Education sexuelle intégrée).
3.1. Relevant international/regional agreements to which Cameroon is a signatory
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Ratification date: 1994
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: 1993
Commits to the right to access appropriate health-related information.
Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD)
Signature date: 2008
Commits to the highest attainable standard of health for persons with disabilities.
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Ratification date: 1984
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
The country attended the conference
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
Article 5 of Law No 98/004 on the Direction of Education in Cameroon (1998) includes, among its objectives, family education and the promotion of hygiene and health education.
In 2007, Cameroon made an inter-ministerial decision to introduce family life education, population education and HIV/AIDS prevention into the curricula. However, there is no specific legislation that recognizes a right to integrated sexuality education (CSE).
Updated in 2009, the 2001-2015 Health Sector Strategy defines the national health policy and provides strategic areas for improving the sexual and reproductive lives of young people. Family planning is one of the categories of intervention included in the mother and adolescent health sections. The adolescent health component includes the prevention of early and unwanted pregnancies, the prevention of STIs and HIV, and the establishment of reproductive health services adapted to the needs of young people.
The 2009 National Youth Policy proposes reducing the maternal mortality rate among young people and, as one of its initiatives, improving family life education (specific objective 7).
The Reproductive Health Services Policy (2009) includes a section on the health of adolescents and young people, the objectives of which are: the prevention and management of diseases; dysfunctions related to their sexuality; the reduction of morbidity and mortality rates linked in particular to unwanted pregnancies, early maternity, induced abortions, STIs and HIV & AIDS; and a focus on education on family life, and sexuality.
The Strategic Plan of the National Reproductive Health Programme (2009) refers to the obstacles in the implementation of the programme. These are mainly socio-cultural barriers, the low use of family planning services by young people, the non-existence of structures adapted to their needs, and low levels of contraceptive use. However, the plan highlights the existence of non-governmental organizations or associations working with reproductive health issues of young people, the inclusion of courses on sexuality education in school programmes, and the integration of the adolescent health component into the priority programmes of the health sector. The '100% jeunes' programme, which started in 2000, targets young people aged 15-24, aiming to encourage them to adopt responsible sexual behaviour, such as the use of male condoms. Peer educators of the same age have been integrated into information, education and communication activities. The media also plays an important role in awareness, prevention and promotion activities.
The National Strategic Plan for the Fight Against HIV, AIDS and STIs (2018-2022) dictates that the ministries in charge of education will be responsible for integrating information and education on HIV & AIDS into the curricula for the training of students at all levels and interventions for teachers.
Mandatory or optional
The interministerial Order N° 281/07 mandates the integration of family life education into education programmes. The 2018 education reforms are included in the compulsory national curricula.
Model of delivery
CSE is not a stand-alone subject, but integrated within various subjects as part of the curricula at primary and secondary levels. In 2007, the interministerial Order N° 281/07 mandated the integration of family life education, population education, and the prevention of HIV & AIDS into training and education programmes. The Education for Family Life curriculum was thus introduced for primary, secondary and normal education. The Education for Family Life curricula and some CSE topics are integrated in a cross-disciplinary way into subjects such as geography, science, languages, civic and moral education, social and family economy, physical and sport education, and moral and professional ethics.
In 2018, the curricular reforms for primary education involved the development of a curriculum that is learner-centred and based on the development of the skills needed to meet the many challenges of contemporary Cameroon. The syllabuses are presented in three levels: Level 1 (class 1 and class 2), Level 2 (class 3 and class 4) and Level 3 (class 5 and class 6). In all, ten subjects have been identified: English language and literature; mathematics; science and technology; French; social studies; vocational studies; arts; physical education and sports; national languages and cultures; and information and communication technologies. For primary education, themes related to CSE are included in different subjects, mainly in science and technology with the module of health education; however, certain topics of CSE are also included in social studies, health and safety, and ethics.
Comprehensiveness of content
The Education for Family Life curriculum proposes the selected themes to be introduced in a cross-disciplinary way: education for social life; education for married life; reproductive health and basic knowledge about STIs and HIV & AIDS; vulnerability factors and personal risk; stigma and discrimination; treatment education; the care system and support for infected and affected people; leadership; participation in the fight against HIV & AIDS; forms of abuse; protection of the environment; the impact of HIV & AIDS on human development; socioeconomic integration; and advocacy.
The 2018 primary education curriculum includes learning units on topics such as reproductive health, health education, the human reproductive system, HIV & AIDS, family planning, puberty, and menstrual hygiene.
The 2006 Pedagogical Guide for Family Life Education for primary and secondary education covers teaching methods and recommendations for addressing the topics relevant to the Family Life curriculum, subdivided into several themes.
The 2018 primary education curriculum for level 1 (class 1 and class 2), level 2 (class 3 and class 4) and level 3 (class 5 and class 6), suggests a methodology and materials, including teaching/ learning strategies and didactic materials.
In 2006-2007, content for the Family Life Education curriculum was developed, and this was accompanied by training for teachers. Training started in person but due to the high costs, this was moved to DVD format and through radio broadcasts. Participants included school directors, inspectors, managers and decision-makers, and they were also involved as supervisors and resource people.
The Education for Family Life curriculum proposes teaching methodologies, implementation strategies, evaluation strategies, and participatory pedagogical approaches and methodologies to be utilized in the teaching and learning process.
In 2013, the government mandated teachers to incorporate some form of HIV sensitization into their lesson plans, regardless of what subject they taught.
No information was found regarding access to school-based health services, including SRH. According to Law No 98/004 on the Direction of Education in Cameroon (1998) article 29, orientation and school psychology activities are carried out during throughout the child's schooling.
4.1 Responsible ministries
Section 15 of Law No 98/004 on the Direction of Education in Cameroon (1998) provides that: i) the education system is organized into two sub-systems, one English-speaking and the other French-speaking, which reaffirms the national policy of biculturalism; ii) these education sub-systems coexist while each retains its specificity in relation to the methods of evaluation and certification.
The education and training sector is supervised by several ministries, including: the Ministry of Basic Education, which is in charge of pre-school education, primary education and literacy; the Ministry of Secondary Education, which includes general secondary education, technical and professional secondary education and training education; and the Ministry of Youth and Civic Education, which deals with the civic and moral education of youth. Other ministries also contribute to the education and supervision of young people and adults, such as the Ministry of Sports and Physical Education, the Ministry of Social Affairs, and the Ministry of Public Health.
4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy
According to Law No 98/004 on the Direction of Education in Cameroon (1998), the state is responsible for developing and implementing an education policy, which is informed by contributions from decentralized territorial communities, families, and public and private institutions.
Article 161 of Law No.2019/024 of 2019 on the General Code of Regional and Local Authorities further strengthens the institutional environment of education in Cameroon: since the start of the decentralization process, certain competencies have devolved to the municipalities, such as in the areas of education (161.a.), literacy (161.b.) and technical and vocational training (161.c.). The aim is to ensure participatory management by the regional and local authorities of education and training structures.
Each school is placed under the administration of the school council, which is headed by the president of the council and the school management, headed by a head teacher. At each level, there is an animator who coordinates the pedagogical activities.
4.3. Government budget allocation
No information was found.
No information was found.