In-service professional development for CSE teachers

CSE as a topic is constantly changing, evolving, and being updated. Data and statistics change, as does language and availability of resources and programmes. It is imperative, therefore, that CSE teachers receive ongoing professional development.

Developing continuous professional development opportunities for teachers should include:

  • a balance of learning content and skills;
  • opportunities to rehearse lessons from the curriculum and receive feedback from peers and supervisors;
  • discussions on troubleshooting potential challenges that might occur in one’s community.

[Source: UNESCO. 2018. International technical guidance on sexuality education: An evidence informed approach.]

Critical steps towards the development and implementation of teacher training

Step 1: Create a technical working group to develop a teacher training curriculum and plan its implementation

This group would be responsible for the development of the training curriculum on CSE, which should be aligned with the broad curriculum framework for schools.

Step 2: Decide on a teacher training format and the implementing institution(s)

It is critical to define details such as whether sexuality education will be delivered as a stand-alone programme, integrated into various subjects, or integrated into one broader but closely related subject such as health education. At the onset, refresher courses should be planned, both for teachers who were trained in-service and for those who were trained pre-service. It will be necessary to budget for the training’s recurring costs.

Step 3: Develop a curriculum for teacher training

, The curriculum should cover the following elements:

  • accurate and up-to-date information on all aspects of (human) sexuality, including biology, fertility, contraception, sexual health, sexual rights, emotions, relationships, social determinants of sexuality, and sexual behaviour, with gender as a cross-cutting element;
  • introduction and practice of interactive methods that address learners’ varying learning styles (e.g. auditory, visual, kinaesthetic) and support their learning;
  • development of effective classroom skills, such as how to handle sensitive reactions from pupils, how to deal with privacy, and how to establish mutual respect and trust;
  • advice on teaching materials (e.g. films, Internet sites, books, and lesson plans);
  • self-reflection by trainee teachers on their own sexuality, and personal comfort or discomfort with sensitive issues;
  • development of competence and comfort in using sexuality-related language;
  • creation of understanding of the developmental process in children and of adolescent sexuality;
  • awareness of the support systems for adolescents and children, such as child protection structures and policies, and knowledge of relevant elements of the national legal system and legal requirements (e.g. age of consent, child protection).
Step 4: Implement teacher training (pre-service, in-service, refresher).

The implementation of teacher training has to be planned and budgeted for, in collaboration with the institution that is going to implement it. The following questions need to be addressed:

  • What kind of training is to be offered? Refresher course(s) should also be planned from the beginning.
  • Who is going to give the training and will these trainers be trained, or what are their required qualifications?
  • How often are the training courses to be offered and how many days are they going to last? In the case of in-service training, the teachers’ absence from their own schools needs to covered.
Step 5. Monitoring and evaluation

This is a critical step towards determining if the programme is achieving the intended objectives, and its effectiveness and impact. There are various forms of evaluation that can be undertaken, including process, outcome, and impact evaluations. (See the section Programme design, management, and assessment for more information.)

    [Adapted from: UNESCO. 2015. Comprehensive sexuality education in teacher training in Eastern and Southern Africa - WHO; BZgA. 2017. Training matters: a framework for core competencies of sexuality educators.]

    8 key recommendations for successful teacher training
    1. Teacher training should cover SE content, teaching methodologies, teacher skills, personal attitudes and teachers’ HIV-risk behaviours.
    2. Teacher training should cover policies, administrative practices and cultural norms that will affect the teaching of sexuality information.
    3. Teachers need to be willing and motivated to teach SE and be trustworthy to young people.
    4. The duration and length of training appears to affect the effectiveness of teachers. Available evidence and anecdotal reports suggest a correlation between the duration of training and the degree of the content taught to students. Short-term or one-time training courses are insufficient to affect teacher confidence and competence over the long term.
    5. Teacher training needs the support of national ministries, local school management and communities.
    6. Train tutors (teachers of teachers), primary and secondary teachers, and to a lesser extent, other staff, principals and administrators. Those who teach teachers—a critical, often neglected group—should receive adequate training to prepare them for their roles. Their comfort and abilities will certainly influence new and impressionable teachers.
    7. Teachers need support after the initial training. A variety of strategies, including refresher courses, mentoring and supportive supervision, can help ensure long-term impact from training.
    8. Teacher training should embrace a policy of zero tolerance for exploitation of students.