Barriers to implementing CSE

Even with decades of research supporting CSE, barriers to successful implementation remain. Within communities, social opposition in the form of resistance or backlash to CSE may negatively affect several areas:

  • policy-makers’ and civil servants’ diligence in taking the necessary measures;
  • access to appropriate curricula and training resources covering a comprehensive range of key CSE topics;
  • teachers’ attitudes and readiness to deliver a curriculum and create the right classroom conditions for effective teaching and learning;
  • students’ motivation;
  • parents’ cooperation.

[Source: GEM Report Team. 2019. Facing the facts: the case for comprehensive sexuality education.]

Additional obstacles include:

  • Systemic challenges facing the education sector, such as human and financial constraints, crumbling infrastructures, competing priorities, etc.
  • Turnover of key personnel within the education sector, both at the higher levels for building and sustaining political commitment, and at the school level to ensure adequate numbers of teachers are trained. Changes in educational administration (such as a change in minister) not only lead to loss of political capital, but also impact on implementation strategies and their momentum.
  • Coordination and collaboration remain weak in many countries. These have been strengthened in some countries, but much more needs to be done to ensure all stakeholders at all levels (national, regional, and local) understand their roles and responsibilities, and mechanisms are in place to enable quality implementation (and possibly, scale-up) of CSE.
  • Weak linkages between schools and adolescent SRH services and low demand creation in many countries affects the usage of SRH services, and thus the SRH outcomes of adolescents and young people.
  • Financial constraints, resulting in a number of countries not being able to implement or scale up CSE. External support can play a key role, but neither implementation nor scale-up will be complete and long-term sustainability will not be possible if the government does not contribute.
  • The fact that CSE is not an examinable subject in many countries makes it a low priority for Ministries of Education, while a lack of robust monitoring and evaluation results in information gaps and unreliable data about its implementation and impact.

[Source: UNESCO. 2017. CSE scale-up in practice: case studies from Eastern and Southern Africa.]