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  • Writer's pictureProjet Jeune Leader

Launching a New Research Effort: The Power of Comprehensive Sexuality Education to Prevent Violence

An Educator walks with a group of middle school girls away from the camera on a school courtyard in Madagascar. Overlaid on the photo are the logos of UK Aid, What Works, and Projet Jeune Leader.

Children and women in Madagascar experience alarming levels of violence, with many forms intersecting during adolescence. Nearly one in three Malagasy women have experienced physical violence. At the household level, 9 out of 10 Malagasy children are subjected to violent discipline in the form of physical punishment or psychological aggression, and over half of youth have experienced violence at school.

A Groundbreaking Research Effort to Understand and Address Violence

Projet Jeune Leader is proud to announce a new effort to understand how multiple forms of violence can be prevented through comprehensive sexuality education.

Through a 36-month implementation research initiative supported by What Works to Prevent Violence, a program funded by the U.K. Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), we will deepen our understanding and generate critical evidence on how and why our school-based comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) intervention, which has reached over 200,000 young adolescents in Madagascar since 2013, ‘works’ to prevent violence.

Says Ambassador David Ashley, British Ambassador to Madagascar and Comoros:

“In the context of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, I'm proud that the UK is supporting Projet Jeune Leader's comprehensive sexuality education here in Madagascar. Preventing violence against women and girls across the world is a priority for the UK. I'm excited to follow Projet Jeune Leader's actionable research to understand how their programme is helping reduce violence against adolescent girls. This complements other efforts that the UK is undertaking to support the sexual and reproductive health and rights of Malagasy women and girls."

Shares Maia Ramarosandratana, Founder and Executive Director of Projet Jeune Leader:

“Time and time again, we have seen and heard the changes in mindsets and behaviors amongst young people who have participated in our program. We are eager to rigorously examine and document how CSE drives this transformative change to tackle one of the most critical risks to girls’ safety and wellbeing in Madagascar.”

A female PJL Educator stands in front of a blackboard smiling and speaking to a male student, who is standing in the front row amongst rows of seated students.
A Projet Jeune Leader Educator teaching to a classroom of middle school students in rural Amoron'i Mania region.

Tackling High Rates of Violence against Women and Girls in Madagascar

Sexual and gender norms that underpin violence are already internalized by early adolescence. Very young adolescents in low-income countries like Madagascar are also uniquely at risk for violence given that most first encounter dating, sexuality, and partnerships at this age (19% of girls are sexually active before age 15). Worrisomely, Projet Jeune Leader's research with rural adolescents has found that:

  • Over one-third of adolescents believe it’s not a problem to force a partner to have sex.

  • 66% of girls and 71% of boys believe there are times when a woman deserves to be beaten.

Harnessing CSE to Transform Norms and Behaviors

In-school CSE can play an important role in transforming harmful gender norms and reducing the risk of violence.

Our own internal evaluations and participatory research have shown that our CSE program improves adolescent students’ knowledge, attitudes, self-efficacy, and behavioral intentions toward sexual and reproductive health, gender equality, and healthy relationships. Our evaluations to date have also shown our impact on aspects of human development that can underpin violence prevention and response, such as increasing students’ self-efficacy and self-esteem, strengthening family relationships, and providing role models.

There is strong published evidence of these and other positive impacts of CSE on violence prevention in high-income countries. However, in lower-income countries, little robust evidence has been published on the effects of school-based CSE interventions.

A young adult Educator is walking with three middle school girls, with her arm around one of the students. In the blurred background are school grounds.
A Projet Jeune Leader CSE Educator with middle school students in Matsiatra Ambony region.

Filling a Global Knowledge Gap on CSE in Low-Resource Contexts

With support from ‘What Works,’ we will explore our in-school CSE intervention’s potential for violence prevention by researching multiple outcomes: interpersonal violence (including emotional, physical, sexual abuse); sexual violence; bullying and other forms of violence in the school; and corporal punishment.

We are guided by two central questions:

  • How does PJL’s CSE model influence adolescents’ experience of violence in multiple forms?

  • What knowledge, products, and processes can support scale-up of CSE as a violence prevention intervention in a constrained education system?

Our community-grounded team will partner with leading global researchers to research the impacts of our CSE intervention in nearly 100 rural public middle schools in Madagascar, reaching nearly 30,000 young adolescents.

Since 2022, this program has been delivered by government teacher-trainees that Projet Jeune Leader trains and supports to deliver our CSE program. We implement our model — which is fully integrated in the public school system — in direct collaboration with the Ministry of Education. This makes Madagascar one of the only countries worldwide where CSE is actively being scaled up through government and in collaboration with a local non-governmental organization.

Informing CSE Scale-Up to Reach Every Adolescent

This research effort comes at a critical time for Projet Jeune Leader. We are actively working with the Ministry of Education to scale-up our CSE model to reach every public middle school in the country in the next 5-10 years, following successful pilot partnerships at the regional level.

Results from our action-oriented research through ‘What Works’ will inform how CSE — as an essential violence prevention intervention — can be integrated into national education sector reforms for transformative impact at scale.


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About Projet Jeune Leader (PJL)

Projet Jeune Leader is a youth-founded, women-led organization in Madagascar. Since 2013, we have delivered gender-transformative comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) to tens of thousands of young adolescents in Madagascar’s rural public middle schools — working to ensure that every young person has the knowledge, skills, and support they need to thrive through adolescence.

About the What Works to Prevent Violence – Impact at Scale Programme

The ‘What Works to Prevent Violence – Impact at Scale’ Programme is a seven-year initiative funded by the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) to improve prevention and response to violence against women and girls. Building on the success of its predecessor (‘What Works 1'), the 'What Works 2' programme is investing £67.5 million to prevent and contribute to eliminating violence against women and girls (VAWG).


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