Comprehensive Sexuality Education

1. Context and background

2. Terminology

3. Laws and policies

4. Governance

5. Monitoring and reporting


1. Context and background

The sexual and reproductive health (SRH) of adolescents and young people in Togo is characterized by high rates of early pregnancy and marriage, and a large, unmet need for family planning. The high rates of early pregnancy are a reflection of the insufficient availability of SRH services adapted to adolescent girls in public health facilities, inadequate resources and services in rural areas, and little comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) in schools or vocational training centres. Other factors are the prevailing socio-cultural norms and practices harmful to the rights of adolescent girls, negative attitudes towards the sexuality of adolescent girls and their access to contraception, sexual violence in and out of school, and insufficient access to, and retention in, the education system for girls; the poor communication between parents and children on sexuality; the insufficient use of contraceptives; and poor levels of knowledge and skills related to SRH, puberty and first intercourse.

Togo has a long history of sexuality education in the education system. It was first introduced in 1987, when the Ministry of Education launched the teaching of Environment and Population Development/ Reproductive Health (Environnement Population Développement/ Santé de la Reproduction) in primary and secondary education. In 2001-2002, the Ministry focused more on competencies through these existing courses. Between 2008 and 2013, a pilot project called the Promotion of Comprehensive Sexuality Education was tested by the Togolese Association of Family Well-Being (Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial) in partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and other stakeholders, including parent-teacher associations, religious leaders, youth associations and the media. The project integrated CSE into preschool, primary and lower secondary school curricula and was piloted in 18 pilot schools. However, it was later abandoned due to a lack of resources and inadequate teacher training. Some residual components continued in some of the pilot schools. The programme aimed to integrate CSE content into the school curriculum, train teachers on CSE, and establish CSE clubs. In 2009, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education issued two orders that aimed to institutionalize health education at secondary schools for the prevention of HIV and STIs, which was later revised to also include reproductive health. 

To date, the Government does not have the adequate financial resources to scale up CSE. In partnership with non-governmental organizations and development partners, the Government has developed CSE curricula, but implementation is limited due to the lack of funding and different government priorities.


2. Terminology

The term 'comprehensive sexuality education' (Éducation sexuelle complète) is used in main government documents and policies.


3. Laws and policies

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


Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW)
Accession date: 1983

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: 2011

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

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Accession date: 1984

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: 2012

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

The country attended the conference

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.

Togo is also a signatory of the African Union Commission's 'Stop Child Marriage' Campaign.


3.2. Relevant national laws and policies mandating comprehensive sexuality education

Togo has a strong political and legal framework that is aligned with the delivery of sexuality education. The 2007 Reproductive Health Act (2007) stipulates that no one shall be deprived of their right to SRH, specifying that every individual has the right to information and education relevant to their sexual and reproductive health (Article 13). In 2009, the Ministerial Order on HIV prevention education in schools institutionalized health education in schools, and particularly HIV prevention. One hour per week has been allocated for this separate teaching, while educational documents and materials have been revised, five-day courses have been developed, and teacher training has been initiated. The 2010 HIV/AIDS Act also provides for reproductive health education relating to HIV & AIDS prevention. It also recognizes a woman's right to refuse unprotected sex (including within marriage) and provides for the establishment of information and education programmes on HIV. 

Several policies and strategic plans also support the implementation of sexuality education, such as the 2008-2012 Strategic Plan for the Health of Adolescents and Young People in Togo, the 2018-22 Integrated Strategic Plan on Reproductive Health, and the Health of Mothers, Newborns, Children and Adolescents (which explicitly aim to reinforce CSE and life skills in schools), the National HIV/AIDS Policy, the 2007 National Youth Policy, the 2017-22 National Health Development Plan, and the 2011 National Policy on Gender Equality. The 2014-25 Education Sector Plan additionally refers to development of a school health policy, the fight against HIV, and the promotion of school health committees.

Between 2008 and 2013, the Togo Association for Family Welfare (Association Togolaise pour le Bien-être Familial) developed the PESC Project (Promotion de l’Éducation Sexuelle Complète) in partnership with the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education and other institutions (parent-teacher organizations, religious leaders, youth associations and the media. The main goal of the Project was to integrate and implement sexuality education, and it was integrated into the curricula of preschool, primary and lower secondary schools and piloted in 18 schools. Sexuality education contents were integrated into different subjects, such as languages and communication, civic education, life and earth science, English, French, history, and geography. However, from 2018, there was not enough funding to continue. A coalition of different United Nations agencies, and international and local organizations undertook advocacy work so that the programme could advance. 

The 2015-19 National Programme for the Fight against Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage was developed in 2014 and aims to ensure access by and retention of adolescent girls in the education system, and their access to comprehensive sexuality education, as well as access to adolescent-friendly SRH information and services. The programme identifies the insufficient availability of adolescent-friendly SRH services in public health facilities and insufficient coverage of CSE in schools as major priorities, and also aims to improve teacher training in CSE. 

A strategy to combat gender-based violence in schools was adopted in 2018 and an intersectoral thematic group to combat it was established. Corporal punishment, as well as all forms of violence and abuse, including in schools, are prohibited by Togolese law. 


3.3. Curricula

Mandatory or optional

CSE is not a mandatory stand-alone subject, but is integrated within various mandatory and non-mandatory subjects at primary and secondary level.

Model of delivery

CSE is not a stand-alone subject, but integrated within various subjects as part of the CSE programme at pre-primary, primary and secondary level. The curricula for CSE topics in primary education have been grouped together in the form of disciplinary fields such as: French, mathematics, social education, artistic and sports education, and life and earth sciences. At secondary level, CSE topics are integrated into science and technology, social education, life and earth science, English, French, history and geography. Guidelines from non-governmental organizations were taken into consideration in the development of the programme, but the Ministry of Education has not formally released any official guidelines on CSE. Certain curricula reforms, however, have aimed to improve life skills competencies relevant to CSE.

Comprehensiveness of content

Content was analysed by UNESCO’s SERAT and was found to address: early and unwanted pregnancies; HIV; some information on family relationships; the structure and function of sexual and reproductive organs; the biological aspects of puberty; pregnancy; human rights issues; and some information on sexual abuse. It was noted that emphasis is placed on the reduction of early pregnancies and STIs, and the use of condoms. Standards and skills have not been sufficiently developed, while other important aspects such as the management of pressure to have sex as well as the reduction of gender-based violence and certain traditional practices such as early marriage and female genital mutilation are not sufficiently highlighted. It was also noted that some information tends to reinforce pre-existing gender stereotypes, while the content does not reinforce aspects relating to human development, sexuality and sexual behaviour, communication, negotiation and decision-making.

Learning resources

Several teaching materials (such as manuals, boards, posters, leaflets, posters, modules for extra-curricular activities), as well as advocacy documents, have been developed, but they are not prioritized by the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education. The Environment and Population Development/ Reproductive Health programme includes a teacher’s guide, a book of student activities, the contents of the new disciplinary field 'Towards Science and Technology for CSE', and tools of experimentation, such as an observation grid, logbook and timetable. Educational documents and materials were also revised as part of the 2009 Ministerial Order. However, accompanying guides and manuals have not yet been developed for all programmes and all subjects at each level, as they relate to the national reform of the school curriculum and this is still ongoing. New French and mathematics textbooks have been developed for certain levels, but some of the subjects that include the most CSE content (such as life and earth science, and civic education) were not included in the first phase of textbook revision.


3.4. Teachers

The 2009 decrees established a module aiming to enable teachers to master their teaching of sexuality education. The training provides teachers with the necessary information to strengthen their competence in CSE so that they adopt appropriate teaching attitudes and practices, thus enabling them to prepare students for a healthy life. The 2015-19 National Programme for the Fight against Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage aimed to train a larger number of teachers on CSE and integrate it in the initial teacher training programmes, as well as in-service training. The training has not yet been formalized by the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education. 

The PESC Project (Promotion de l’Éducation Sexuelle Complète) allocated one hour per week for CSE teaching. Educational documents/materials were revised, 5-day train-the-trainer courses were developed, and teacher training was initiated (with each school identifying a teacher to be trained). A module (piloted in 18 schools) aimed to 'provide teachers the necessary information and reinforce their competence in matters of comprehensive sexuality education so that they adopt teaching attitudes and practices enabling them to prepare students for a healthy and fulfilling life'. It focused on 7 essential components of CSE: gender, sexual health and reproduction, sexual citizenship, sexual pleasure and fulfilment, fight against violence, promotion of diversity, and relationships with others. In addition, a CSE teacher self-training manual has been developed to assist teachers, while the Ministry of Primary and Secondary Education undertook an analysis of the training programmes for preschool, primary and secondary education to list the missing educational content in CSE and identify the key content to be added.

While teachers are not mandated to be trained on the delivery of CSE, the Ministry of Primary and Secondary education aims to integrate CSE training in the initial teacher training programmes as well as in-service training as part of the 2015-19 National Programme for the Fight against Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage


3.5. Schools

The 2015-19 National Programme for the Fight against Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage aims to improve access to CSE for youth and adolescents, as well as access to information and services related to SRH. 

To support the Government in responding to the SRH needs of adolescents and youth, a public-private partnership was forged with North Star Alliance and UNFPA to set up Blue Boxes (school clinics) in secondary schools with at least 1,000 students. Specific goals included setting up a functional health unit in schools with a large student body, providing a package of primary health-care services (including reproductive health and HIV services) in clinics, improving students’ knowledge and behaviour regarding hygiene and SRH, improving SRH education (including HIV prevention in teaching programmes), and introducing early prevention practices in schools. In some schools, existing clinics were improved, while in others, new ones were created with all the necessary supplies. School clinics also have stocks of contraceptives.


4. Governance

4.1 Responsible ministries

The Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education bears overall responsibility for the delivery of CSE, with strong involvement of non-governmental organizations and development partners. The Ministry has implemented several education projects for the effective learning about the population, environment, HIV prevention, and CSE since the 1970s, although no project has been scaled up nationally due to different ministry priorities. 

The Ministry of Health, through the National Youth and Adolescent Health Service division is responsible for school clinics, although the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education is the lead institution on school health. 

Coordination mechanisms are weak due to financial and personnel constraints, in addition to the tendency to compartmentalize the activities of each ministry. 

Many non-governmental and civil society organizations work with the ministries in the development of guidelines and training for CSE. These include the BØRNEfonden, Plan International, the Togolese Association of Family Well-Being (Association Togolaise pour le Bien-Etre Familial), and Le Jourdain-Vie et Santé. Other key stakeholders have also supported several actions to remove the barriers to the implementation of CSE. The Federation of Parent–Teacher Associations established member associations to support CSE implementation and improve communication between parents and children about SRH. Other stakeholders signed partnership agreements to help promote and advocate the project. These stakeholders included: the National Youth Council; journalists from the Network of African Media against AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria in Togo; faith-based leaders of the Protestant Association for Medical, Social and Humanitarian Work in Togo; and the Muslim Union of Togo.

4.2. Level of responsibility/decentralization and autonomy

Schools are responsible for implementing CSE issues into the curricula through specific teacher guides.

4.3. Government budget allocation

All ministerial departments, including the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education, are responsible for including a line item in their department's budget for the implementation of HIV and AIDS prevention and control and gender-mainstreaming activities. However, there is a lack of implementation due to insufficient financial and human resources, with long-term financing not available.


5. Monitoring and reporting

The 2015-19 National Programme for the Fight against Teenage Pregnancy and Marriage supports the coordination, advocacy, resource mobilization, monitoring and evaluation of CSE and access to SRH services. However, to date, monitoring and evaluation has not been sustained within the education system.

Last modified:

Sat, 25/02/2023 - 17:59