Challenges to providing teacher training

Although there is widespread agreement on the importance of and need for professional development for CSE teachers, the reality is it is not happening at the scope necessary for success. Specific challenges include:

  • Insufficient duration of existing CSE courses designed for in-service teachers. Time needs to be allocated for this training and this will vary depending on whether it is in-service or pre-service training. Training of teachers requires investment, but it will guarantee the quality of sexuality education for the future. More sustainable training solutions will be better than too short, too superficial, stand-alone training courses. The short duration of these courses is insufficient to provide the required confidence and understanding to teach the subject.
  • Insufficient time for teachers to be away from their schools for multi-day professional development opportunities. In-person, multi-day programmes are the most effective support for CSE teachers because they allocate sufficient time for skills integration and practice. Such training will often be offered during school holidays, which takes teachers away from their much-needed rest and time with their families.
  • Insufficient funding for teacher training. Most in-person and online courses require a fee. Although some sponsoring organizations offer scholarships or group discounts, the cost of bringing professional development to scale, particularly in areas that have a large number of teachers, can be quite limiting. Organizations, schools, and education departments should integrate teacher training in their programme budgets, and consider hybrid (in-person combined with online) approaches as cost-saving measures.
  • Limited access to computers and the Internet. Teachers may look to update their knowledge on CSE and take part in online courses to further their professional development, so access to appropriate technology is vital. Increasingly, many individuals and communities navigate digital spaces using mobile technology, but most existing online teacher training programmes are designed for desktop or laptop use only. Mobile optimization of online courses would enable more teachers to access this type of professional development.

[Source: UNESCO. 2015. Comprehensive sexuality education in teacher training in Eastern and Southern Africa.]