National Conference on Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Tunisia


Thérèse Karugwiza (UNFPA Rwanda) at National Conference on Comprehensive Sexuality Education in Tunisia, held on 4 and 5 July 2017 in Tunis.

The Arab Institute for Human Rights and the Tunisian Association for Reproductive Health in partnership with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), organized a national conference on the Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Tunisia. The national conference held on July 4 and 5, 2017 in Tunis, brought together representatives from: the reform commission at the Ministry of Education, the General Tunisian Labor Union (UGTT), the Government and the key civil society’s actors.

Sexual Education: the power of prejudices and the weakness of the education system

The Conference was an opportunity to present the results of a comparative study on comprehensive sexuality education programs in the world and in Tunisia (2017), carried out by the Tunisian Association of Reproductive Health (ATSR), with the support of UNFPA.

In fact, numerous studies on reproductive health showed that the sexual activity is becoming more and more precocious among young people. A survey conducted on 2009 at the National Office for Family and Population (ONFP) revealed that the average age at first intercourse is 16.4 years for girls and 17.4 years for boys, 13.5% of girls and 52.5% of boys aged between 15 and 24 have had sex. However, almost 60% of all sexually active youth did not use protective methods, and only 19.1% of women aged between 15 and 24 have extensive knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and HIV.

Mr. Senim Ben Abdallah the study consultant stated, "Sexuality education in Tunisian schools is still mainly perceived as an encouragement for sexual activity. Therefore, few sexuality education modules are integrated into school curricula in Tunisia. The existing ones are usually taught by the end of puberty and they are limited to the biological aspects ". However, regardless their divergent paths, adolescents and young people need comprehensive knowledge related to their SRH in order to prevent risky behaviors, early pregnancies, Gender-based violence and early emersion into sexual activities.

Toward the integration of CSE into school curricula

The national conference was held in the context of a major reform of the Tunisian educational system. The main objective of this reform is to build the capacity of young people in knowledge and skills needed for them to make the right choices about their future. This conference saw the participation of national and international experts giving rich and informative interventions. These included Ms. Thérèse Karugwiza (UNFPA Rwanda) and Ms. Amina Stavridis, Executive Director of the Palestinian Association for Family Protection, who presented the experiences of their respective countries. In her speech, Ms Amina Stavridis stressed out the importance of an in-depth and continuous advocacy work in favor of CSE. She underlined the need for a collaborative work with partners in the definition and the implementation of new curricula.

"With our partners, we have worked tirelessly on a daily basis, both at the institutional and field levels, to combat prejudice and remove the constraints around the introduction of CSE in school curricula. Three years have been necessary to develop a consensual curriculum on CSE."

The conference allowed the formalization of a roadmap with urgent actions to be taken toward he integration of CSE into the school curricula in Tunisia.