New Resource: Sex Ed "We Can Count On"
Projet Jeune Leader shares practical tools from Madagascar to build community support for sexuality education
At the intersection of health, education, and gender equality, comprehensive sexuality education (sex ed) is a powerful mechanism that equips young people with the capacities needed to lead healthy and productive lives. Yet, around the world, comprehensive sexuality education is still sometimes seen as a sensitive and politically charged subject – especially in schools.
In the island country of Madagascar, the youth-led organization Projet Jeune Leader has been steadily delivering sex ed in government schools since 2013. In fact, community demand for their specialized educators is so high that they have a waiting list of potential partner schools across three regions in the country.
Now, as part of WomenStrong International’s Learning Lab, Projet Jeune Leader has shared their experiences and knowledge on harnessing this support and demand for sex ed in their new guidance tool: CSE We Can Count On. This guidance tool is unique for the field because it is based directly on the viewpoints and experiences of their local partner communities in Madagascar, according to Maia Ramarosandratana, Projet Jeune Leader’s Founder and Executive Director.
“We have completely flipped who is telling the story on community-level support for sexuality education,” Ms. Ramarosandratana says. “Instead of international and multilateral agencies trying to tell us how to build grassroots support – like we have seen over and over again – the story is being told by an organization who has actually worked hand-in-hand with local people from the start.”
Indeed, Projet Jeune Leader’s guidance tool improves on past guides that offer general recommendations that are difficult to put to practice. CSE We Can Count On contains actionable strategies supported by additional resources, tools, and evidence that Projet Jeune Leader uses with tens of thousands of Malagasy students, parents, teachers, and school officials.
The tool’s title also reflects the organization’s broader philosophy and vision for sex ed. In comprehensive sexuality education, there are often larger power dynamics at play that determine who has a voice and who gets to tell their story, explains Ms. Ramarosandratana.
“There is almost always an assumption that there will be backlash against sexuality education. I believe that assumption exists because it has traditionally been a topdown intervention where local communities are skipped over,” she says.
Projet Jeune Leader doesn’t want this guide to be seen as a tool to counter backlash, but rather a powerful example for how accountable, community-driven, and trust-based comprehensive sexuality education can – and should – be the norm in the field.
“In every single decision we make, the Projet Jeune Leader team asks ourselves, are our students happy and excited to attend sex ed courses with our educators? Do they believe they can count on us to respond to their needs and priorities?” Ms. Ramarosandratana says. “We know, and have seen, that if those key principles guide us in our work, we can ensure that more and more communities are dedicated to helping their youth lead healthy lives through comprehensive sexuality education.”
WomenStrong International finds, funds, strengthens, and shares women-driven solutions that will transform lives in urban areas. This blog is reprinted with permission from their website: www.womenstrong.org.