The evaluation of the Pilot Programme on Comprehensive Sexuality Education has shown that the pupils involved are much more knowledgeable about their sexual and reproductive health and rights, unlike their fellow pupils from other schools in the country.
7 December 2022 – The Education Development Bureau, in cooperation with HERA – Health Education and Research Association, held a round table to present the findings of the Evaluation of the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) Pilot Programme which was implemented in 2021 among the 9th-grade pupils of the primary schools “Jan Amos Komenski” and “Kuzman Šapkarev” in Skopje and “Bratstvo Migjeni” in Tetovo.
“Comprehensive Sexuality Education promotes healthy behaviour”, said Aishe Ajrulai of the Education Development Bureau (EDB) in her welcoming address, pointing out that the objective of education policies designed by the Ministry of Education and Science is to contribute to the development of healthy persons who will be equipped with knowledge and skills to help them, as young people, take healthy decisions fit for their values and the values of the community where they live.
“I believe the round table will prove an encouragement for many primary schools to further implement the Sexuality Education, as provided for in the Concept Note on Primary Education. I believe the number of teachers willing to implement the Sexuality Education will grow bigger in the future. As for the challenges and the opponents – they will always be there, but if we are greater in our numbers and in our strength, they will not be able to discourage us. Therefore, being a strong advocate for CSE to be taught in schools, in HERA you can find a partner that will support you all the way”, said Bojan Jovanovski, Executive Director of HERA.
Presenting the findings from the evaluation, which also involved monitoring of the instruction by EDB advisors, the evaluator Sheruze Osmani-Ballazhi observed that the Pilot Programme is in line with UNESCO objectives and standards on providing CSE to children aged 13 to 15, and that the curriculum, the instructional aids, and the delivered trainings and workshops have closely responded to the teachers’ needs to enhance their competences for delivering the CSE Programme.
The data have revealed that the Programme has significantly improved the pupils’ knowledge about CSE topics and that pupils have adopted significantly more positive attitudes towards CSE components. The qualitative findings have indicated that the trainings were an important factor for the effective implementation of the Programme. Yet, the teachers have articulated the need to expand the scope of knowledge with scientific and medical facts about sexuality, and to be supported by another teacher or external educator for delivering the Programme, in particular for lessons discussing contraception, teenage relations and marriage, sexism and sexual orientations. To be able to absorb the thematic contents fully and effectively, both pupils and teachers believe that the CSE Programme should be implemented in the course of two semesters, with twice as large number of lessons.
Nikolina Kenig, one of the researchers in the “Survey on Teachers’ Attitudes towards CSE Introduction in Primary Education before and after Piloting the Programme”, reported that a significant share of the teachers covered (a total of 1652) would like to join the training on how to teach this matter, as they find the information, positions and skills that pupils would acquire with this Programme to be of particular importance and relevance. “The teachers and the associates have identified barriers to the successful realisation of the Programme mostly in factors outside the schools, that is, in the unpreparedness of the community or of the parents to accept the systematic education of their teenagers in the area of sexuality”, she added.
Let us reiterate, the CSE Pilot Programme was implemented as part of extracurricular activities, as an elective subject of free choosing in the 9th grade, with a total of 36 lessons in the course of the first semester of the 2021/2022 school year. To this end, following the guidelines and recommendations given by the multisectoral workgroup set up by the Ministry of Education and Science, a curriculum was developed that would correspond to the developmental capacities of pupils aged 15, and also a (draft) Handbook was designed including a total of 47 workshops spanned across 7 components: gender, relationships and relations, our body and the image of our body, sexual and reproductive health, sexuality, violence. In addition to providing adept guidance to the pupils, the role of the trained teachers was also to create a safe and secure environment in which the pupils can feel comfortable to share and ask, respecting the previously established boundaries, their own and those of the others.
The results of this evaluation will serve, on one hand, as the basis to revise and supplement the curriculum and the Handbook materials, and on the other, to prepare the National Plan and Strategy on Introducing CSE in Primary and Secondary Education as an elective subject of free choosing, or transversally across the appropriate school subjects.