School based Sexuality Education Programme

In India the entire issue of 'sexuality education' has been mired in controversy and has been a topic for much political debate and media discussion over the past few years. Rather than discussing the most promising and relevant approaches to provide sexuality education, the debate is still centered on whether sexuality education should even be included as part of the school education. At the same time there is a growing body of evidence from across the country that establishes the fact that a small but significant proportion of adolescent boys and girls are sexually active, most often in circumstances where they are unable to use 'protection' either due to lack of information or means to do so.

Presently there is very little robust evidence about the most appropriate and effective ways to educate school-based adolescents in India about sexual and reproductive health issues. The urgency of this research gap is apparent not only in the context of India's HIV threat, but also in the growing recognition that there are risks and limitations in simply adopting educational models from other countries because of cultural and social differences, as well as disparities in available funds and materials for implementation.

This study aimed to respond to the gap in the evidence base on effective school-based sexuality education programmes in Indian settings. The study was conducted in the period 2004-2008, in a total of four schools: two schools each (one boys' and one girls' school) in urban (Rewari) and rural (Bawal) settings in the state of Haryana.

The impact of this study was assessed through a ‘pre and post’ design, process evaluation, class evaluation, and feedback from students and stakeholders on perceived acceptability of the curriculum and the school intervention.

Students in the intervention group were able to reject myths and misconceptions around Sexual Reproductive Health more often than students who have not received the intervention.

The feedback from the students, teachers, school principals and trainers served as a testimony to the fact that there is an urgent need to bridge the information and communication gap on sexuality and health related issues. The results from the said study was being used as an evidence base for advocacy for expanded sexuality education in other school settings in India and to further expand understanding of different approaches to this challenging but crucial aspect of youth well-being.