UN Population Division, Department of Economic and Social Affairs,
with support from the UN Population Fund (UNFPA)

Reconceptualization of Population Education, by O.J. Sikes


This document is being made available by the Population Information

Network (POPIN) Gopher of the United Nations Population Division,

Department for Economic and Social Information and Policy Analysis,

in collaboration with the Education, Communication and Youth

Branch, Technical and Evaluation Division, United Nations

Population Fund.



                         TECHNICAL PAPER

                            Number 2 


This TECHNICAL PAPER was written by O.J. Sikes, Chief of the

Education, Communication and Youth Branch, Technical and Evaluation

Division (TED), UNFPA.

TECHNICAL PAPERS are working documents by UNFPA. They present new

ideas, innovative approaches, case studies and research results,

prepared either by UNFPA technical staff or by consultants. Their

purpose is to facilitate the rapid exchange of knowledge and

perspectives among field offices and to stimulate discussion. The

contents of this working document do not necessarily represent the

policies or views of UNFPA. 

This paper has been prepared for publication by TED. UNFPA also

publishes technical reports in these other categories: Report;

Programme Advisory Note; Programme Review and Strategy

Development (PRSD) Report; and Evaluation Report.



     The author is grateful for the useful comments and suggestions

made by colleagues who read all or portions of the manuscript: Ms.

Fama Ba, Ms. Josyane Blanchard, Mr. Edward El Wardini, Dr.

Charlotte Gardiner, Mr. Gerardo Gonzales, Ms. Patricia Guzman, Mr.

Arnfinn Jorgensen-Dahl, Mr. Alan Kondo, Ms. Uyen Luong, Ms. Henna

Ong, Mr. Jairo Palacio, Ms. Catherine Pierce, Ms. Elena

Pozdorovkina, Ms. Mouna Saman, Mr. R.C. Sharma, Mr. Jyoti S. Singh,

Mr. Michael Vlassoff and Mr. Sloan Wayland. Mr. William A. Ryan

edited the report.                        

                     Copyright (C) 1993

                     United Nations Population Fund

                     220 East 42nd Street

                     New York, N.Y. 10017


     Prior permission to quote or adapt this material does not need

to be obtained from UNFPA, but appropriate reference to the sources

should be made.


                        TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   i

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  iv

I.   INTRODUCTION. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   1


III. THE VALUE OF POPULATION EDUCATION . . . . . . . . . . .   5


          PROGRAMME. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   5



     FOR RECONCEPTUALIZATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .   9


     A.   NEED FOR CLEAR OBJECTIVES. . . . . . . . . . . . .  11

     B.   EMERGING CONCERNS ABOUT CONTENT. . . . . . . . . .  11

          1.    Environment/population linkages. . . . . . .  12

          2.    Family life and human sexuality contents . .  12

          3.    AIDS education as part of population 

                education  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

          4.    Gender issues. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  13

          5.    Appropriate family planning content for 

                population education.  . . . . . . . . . . .  14

          6.    Parenthood as an option. . . . . . . . . . .  17

          7.    Early development of responsibility. . . . .  18

          8.    Changing the approach to teaching demographic

                concepts . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

          9.    Ageing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  19

          10.   Application of general concerns to 

                population issues  . . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

     C.   PRIORITIZATION OF CONTENTS . . . . . . . . . . . .  20

     D.   PRESENTATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21

          1.    Ordering of concepts . . . . . . . . . . . .  21

          2.    Positioning population content in the 

                curriculum . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  21

     E.   INVOLVEMENT OF PARENTS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23

     F.   APPROACHES TO TEACHING . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  23

          1.    Teaching future-oriented thinking and             

                problem-solving skills . . . . . . . . . . .  23

          2.    Recognizing and analysing propaganda . . . .  24

          3.    Participatory learning . . . . . . . . . . .  25

          4.    Affect . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  25

          5.    Values clarification . . . . . . . . . . . .  25

     G.   TEACHER TRAINING . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  26

          1.    Pre-service teacher preparation. . . . . . .  26

          2.    In-service teacher training. . . . . . . . .  26


     I.   RESEARCH NEEDS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  29

     J.   EVALUATION ISSUES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  30

     K.   INSTITUTIONALIZATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  32


     M.   INVOLVEMENT OF PRIVATE SCHOOLS . . . . . . . . . .  34


     EDUCATION . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  36




     EDUCATION PROGRAMMES. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  . 44

REFERENCES . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  46



AIDS      Acquired immune deficiency syndrome

HIV       Human immunodeficiency virus

IEC       Information, education and communication

ISCOMPE   International Study on the Conceptualization and        

          Methodology of Population Education

UNESCO    United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural


UNFPA     United Nations Population Fund

UNICEF    United Nations Children's Fund

WHO       World Health Organization 



     In 1978, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and

Cultural Organization (UNESCO) assembled a group of educators to

prepare an International Study on the Conceptualization and

Methodology of Population Education (ISCOMPE). This document has

served as the conceptual base for developments in the field of

population education since that time. In the 1970s, there were few

projects in operation in any region and little practical experience

to draw from. In the early 1980s, however, interest increased

significantly and projects multiplied around the world.

     This history was documented in UNFPA's review and assessment

exercise in 1991. But there has been no global effort to

re-conceptualize population education since the UNESCO book was

published in 1978. Many changes have occurred since then. A great

deal of practical experience has been accumulated, but it has not

been shared widely enough for all countries to benefit.

     Initial attempts to organize the concepts of population

education (which began on a very small scale some 10 years before

ISCOMPE was issued) did not result in a tightly-structured

conceptualization to which all countries were expected to adhere.

Rather, early conceptualizations consisted of broad guidelines,

some of which were followed by many countries and others that were


     While experts in the field generally agreed that population

education should address both broad (macro-level) and

individual/family (micro-level) population issues, there was little

agreement on the priorities to be set. Indeed, the need to

establish priorities in the selection of content was not stressed

in the early years. This shortcoming often resulted in attempts to

cover more issues than the curricula could bear. At the same time,

curricula usually included only issues considered unlikely to lead

to controversy.

     There were sometimes difficulties in determining the actual

content of population education, further complicating the setting

of priorities. In some countries participatory methodologies were

not practised, and learners were expected to memorize population

"facts" in the hope that this would somehow lead to behaviour

change. Teachers were sometimes expected to introduce adolescents

to human sexuality concepts in an effort to help them to avoid

early pregnancy  without reference to the use of contraceptives!

     Questions such as how and when population education is

supposed to influence behaviour change, and how this can be

measured, lacked answers in the early years of population

education. Fortunately, many were resolved early through a process

of trial and error, but development of the field has been uneven.

     Different regions have taken varied approaches to the

development of population education content. At the outset, Asia

and the Arab States gave priority attention to population dynamics,

while Africa and Latin America focused initially on sexuality and

family-life issues. In each region, other content areas have been

introduced gradually, but countries still need guidance in how to

do this more effectively and without the controversy that sometimes

surrounds projects.

     The global issue of controversy and how to avoid it was

addressed briefly in a paper published in 1992 in the International

Review of Education (see Annex I). Another global concern that

needs to be further explored is the need for cost-effective

approaches to training teachers in large numbers. Written materials

are needed on: how to formulate objectives and determine what

actions are needed to meet them; prioritization of contents;

evaluation methodologies; how to fit key population concepts into

school curricula that are already crowded; and the steps required

to achieve institutionalization (a term used frequently, but rarely

understood). These need to be distributed widely to help people

working in population education to develop more effective


     This Technical Paper aims to draw on the past 15 years'

experience, to raise practical issues that will help those

associated with population education activities to strengthen

present and future programmes. The paper will emphasize important

new issues that need explanation, along with issues for which there

is a perceived need for new direction or emphasis, based upon

school programme experience.

     While population education is also important for a variety of

audiences in out-of- school settings, this paper will focus on

population education in schools.



     The definition of population education has not changed much

over the years. It is generally agreed that population education is

the process of helping people understand the nature, causes and

implications of population processes as they affect, and are

affected by, individuals, families, communities and nations. It

focuses on family and individual decisions influencing population

change at the micro level, as well as on broad demographic changes.

     Though sometimes linked with demography, human ecology,

family-life education or sex education, population education is not

synonymous with them. Rather, it draws its content from a knowledge

base comprised of key concepts from all these fields and others,

with variations according to the setting.

     Interpretations of the meaning of "population education" vary,

perhaps too widely, from culture to culture and between countries.

To be relevant to learners' needs, population education must take

cultural differences into account, just as it varies the nature and

complexity of programme content according to the age-levels and

learning capacities of students being addressed.

     Besides cultural differences, a second reason professionals in

various countries interpret population education differently is

that there is no international system of exchange of information,

experience and views (conceptual thinking) that could nurture the

continuing evolution of the field. This problem is compounded by

the complexity of population education, which draws on concepts

from a number of older, more-established fields; and by the fact

that the concepts of population education are usually dispersed

among several subjects in the school curriculum, instead of being

taught as a distinct, integrated subject area.


     It is sometimes assumed, mistakenly, that population education

deals exclusively with demography or macro-level population issues.

Another incorrect assumption is that preventing adolescent

pregnancy is its only goal. Actually, the goals and content of

population education must reflect the diversity of school audiences

that have a variety of needs and behaviour patterns.

     Tomorrow's leaders, in both the public and private sectors,

will be products of today's schools; it is important for them to

understand how population affects local and national welfare and

development. Most of the children now in school will one day be

parents; how soon this will occur depends upon a number of factors,

including how long they remain in school and what they learn while

they are there. Population education has to respond to both types

of needs. 

     Some countries have given priority to the immediate need to

reduce the incidence of adolescent pregnancy, and have emphasized

concepts from the field of human sexuality and reproduction in

their secondary-level school curricula. Such educational endeavours

can be successful if carefully planned and carried out in

conjunction with health services designed to meet adolescents'

needs. But for educational interventions to be most effective, they

need to begin long before adolescence, at primary and pre-primary

school age, when attitudes and values are being formed (see Annex


     Other countries have perceived rapid population growth to be

the major problem to be addressed through population education.

While this is easier to deal with at the middle or secondary level

than is adolescent pregnancy, it may be difficult to present the

issues involved in a way that is personally meaningful to students.

Imaginative educators have made important progress in this regard,


     In both cases, educators need to go beyond a "single-issue"

approach, and to recognize the importance and relevance of other

population issues, both micro and macro. They should offer learners

a balanced population education programme that draws its knowledge

base from four principal sources of information: social demography;

family life; environment; and human sexuality. This is can be done

while allowing each country to set its own priorities.

     This paper does not propose to change the purpose and

rationale of population education. It seeks to provide

clarification, so that practitioners around the world can begin to

speak the same language, move beyond single-issue approaches, and

recognize that their young audiences have different learning needs

at different times in their lives. It also suggests a necessary

reconceptualization of content and approaches.




     Population education in the school system can make a number of

contributions to a national population programme. The children in

school today, as tomorrow's leaders of communities and nations,

need to learn how to understand and cope with the population issues

they will face as adults. Population education should also help

them function effectively in their future roles as parents. Some

adolescents will find themselves at risk of pregnancy before they

are ready for it, and will need to know how to avoid such


     Over the past 20 years, population education has gradually

gained acceptance as an important part of the school curriculum in

most countries, largely through the efforts of UNESCO and UNFPA.

Still, a great deal remains to be done to institutionalize and

strengthen this relatively new field to maximize its impact over

the long term.

     UNFPA's approach to population programming is a holistic one.

Rather than funding projects in an ad hoc fashion and assuming that

they will somehow come together to form a coherent national

programme, the Fund undertakes lengthy exercises with Governments

to develop comprehensive strategies for a national programme.

Individual projects are formulated in line with these strategies,

and with objectives that make them compatible with other projects.

Such a programme stands a better chance of succeeding than isolated


     Under this approach, population education is part of an

overall programme with which it shares long-term goals. Population

education can be somewhat more independent of the larger programme

than some other components of population information, education and

communication (IEC), but there are important linkages that should

not be overlooked.

     Students are not the only audience for population education in

schools. Others include teachers and administrators, parents,

religious leaders, and policy makers. Each has particular needs

which have to be met if population education is to reach children

effectively. If one or more of these audiences is neglected,

implementation of a project may be at serious risk.

     A larger IEC strategy will target each of these audiences for

other population messages. Religious leaders may be involved in

family planning communication. Public information efforts may

encourage parliamentarians to enact population legislation. Parents

may be among the workers exposed to population education on the

job. The messages, while not identical in each situation, should

not be in conflict but should complement and reinforce one another.

     UNFPA's strategy for the implementation of population

education in the 1990s and beyond is based on this complementary

approach to population IEC, within a comprehensive population

programming framework. Adopting this approach should provide a

clearer understanding of how population education fits in the

overall population and education programmes.


     Population education's greatest contribution to education is

its impact on the quality and relevance of education. One of the

principal problems of education in poor countries is attrition,

which is often due, inter alia, to the poor quality of education.

Parents do not want to keep their children in school systems that

do not function well, where they learn little. (Female children are

also kept out of school to help mothers at home, or because they

are not supposed to mix with boys from other families.)

     Population education has the potential to help alleviate

school attrition by improving the quality of education, especially

when parents are involved in the programme, and children and

teachers are visibly motivated. In a number of countries (India and

Honduras, e.g.), strong teacher support for population education 

adopting it as their "own", rather than something imposed from

outside  has helped improve overall educational quality.

     Population education brings relevance to the content of a

school curriculum, particularly when coupled with teaching

approaches that encourage participatory learning.

     In the past, primary school-age children were sometimes

considered too young for exposure to population concepts, but it is

now widely recognized that attitudes and beliefs are formed early

in life, and can be influenced by education starting at a young

age. Children's questions may provide a sound basis for initial

population education. Teachers and parents should not side-step

questions like "Where did I come from?"; answers should be in terms

that young children can understand.

     Teaching methods based on class discussion of questions raised

by pupils or by the teacher have proven effective in addressing

population issues and identifying and responding to learners'

needs. Involving learners in practical experiences that make them

aware of their feelings, ideas and beliefs can promote

learning-by-doing and help to clarify values.

     Although these methods are no more expensive to utilize than

conventional methods, they do draw more heavily on the time and

imagination of teachers. This is not necessarily a drawback.

Teachers usually perceive the enthusiastic student response to

participatory methods as a professional reward which offsets the

inconvenience of spending additional time.

     Population education emphasizes participatory methods because

of their effectiveness in developing understanding and concern

among students, which are critical if a programme is to have a

lasting impact. Introducing these methods not only benefits

population learning, but frequently improves the general quality of


     There are important, mutually beneficial potential linkages

between population education activities and broader education

initiatives in specific country settings. The Education For All

initiative provides a particularly important opportunity to make

such connections. Both the United Nations system and Governments

have major roles to play in bringing about the necessary





     Population education began only in the late 1960s (although it

was talked about earlier). Much of the early impetus to introduce

population issues in school systems came from population and family

planning professionals rather than educators. This was a response

to the perceived population problems facing the world at that time.

     By the 1970s, educators began to play a stronger role in

conceptualizing population education. There was a tendency to move

away from a primary concern with population "problems"  a concern

endorsed by population biologists, among others  towards the

"value-fair" approach endorsed by social scientists, which posits

that no population-related decisions are by nature "right" or

"wrong". At its extreme, this approach was taken to mean that

teaching should be free of values, and in a few instances an

attempt was made to teach population and related issues without

"imposing" the teacher's values on students.

     For years the disagreement between social scientists and

natural scientists (only summarized briefly here) influenced the

field of population education and the question of how to teach

population issues, just as it has influenced the population field

itself. Some of this tension still remains. Today, after being

marginalized for some 20 years, population biologists seem to be

regaining respect in the population community.

     These global conceptual differences were compounded in the

1970s and 1980s by regional and national differences in population

situations and cultures, which also affected the selection of

content for population education. Some countries are very open to

teaching about human sexuality and reproduction. Others, where

population growth is a politically sensitive topic, are extremely

reluctant to do so. As a result, population education has developed

unevenly in different regions, and among countries within in any

given region.

     One point of agreement among educators at the global level,

whether their backgrounds are in social or natural science, is that

learning should be participatory  not imposed by the teacher

through traditional, one-way didactic methods. While some

individuals have found this hard to accept, acceptance has been

growing, fuelled by the success of teachers who have used a

participatory approach and found it highly effective.

     Readings and lectures do have a place in population education.

They are efficient for teaching facts and enabling students to pass

examinations. Participatory methods are more effective, however, in

influencing the development of attitudes, a key concern of

population education.

     A basic goal of population education should be to convince

learners that they can control many of the events in their lives,

including those related to reproductive behaviour (e.g., when to

marry, when to have the first child, how many children to have,

etc.). They can take decisions, follow up with action and obtain

results. Many children begin to believe early that they have no

control over their fate. Schools should help them modify this

attitude, and teach them that what they become in life will depend

in large part on their own decisions and actions. Participatory

learning is important to the accomplishment of this goal.

     The differing outlooks and sensibilities regarding population

issues have up to now prevented the development of a clear,

coherent, and universally-applicable conceptualization of

population education. The world has changed since 1978, when UNESCO

proposed the conceptualization described in the International Study

on the Conceptualization and Methodology of Population Education

(now out of print). Cultures have changed, and constraints on

content have eased, in part, in response to a growing understanding

of the importance of some topics once thought to be taboo.

Population education is ready for a reconceptualization. 



     As numerous countries try to implement national programmes of

population education, their experience underscores the need for a

reconceptualization of population education, and indicates ways to

make the effort more effective.


     Objectives, of projects, school lessons and training

activities, have to be clear from the outset. They guide the work

that follows. Those responsible for designing projects, curricula,

materials and lesson plans should be able to refer back to the

objectives and receive clear guidance from them; materials

developers and teachers need to be sure that what they are

designing or teaching will help to reach the objectives.

     Clarity of content is also of vital importance in meeting

learning objectives. When educators are reluctant to make the

lesson content lucid, for fear of being too explicit about

"delicate" subject matters, for example, pupils will be left to

fill in the gaps, and there is no certainty that those gaps will be

filled in accurately. A learning opportunity will be lost.

     Activities and contents should reflect the objectives of the

project. When they do not, they lose their focus and it becomes

difficult to measure their impact or effectiveness. By the same

token, objectives must be formulated with evaluation in mind.

Evaluators should be able to evaluate the achievements of the

project against the set objectives.


     Some of the population topics chosen for inclusion in school

curricula may be perceived as sensitive or controversial. These

need special attention when priorities are being set, and care

should be taken that they are presented clearly enough to get the

message across without offending. Annex I offers a guide on how to

do this with some of the key concepts from the sexuality and

family-life areas of population education.

     A number of topics, corresponding to emerging needs among

audiences served by population education activities, should be

considered when priorities are set by ministries of education. (The

list that follows is not exhaustive, nor is the explanation under

each heading a complete treatment of the topic.)

     1.   Environment/population linkages

     Population dynamics are closely related to environmental

issues. In line with the growing global awareness of the need for

sustainable use of resources and more effective protection of the

environment, relevant environmental concepts need to be

incorporated into population education curricula. In particular,

the key ways in which population and the environment relate to each

other have to be spelt out.

     There may be areas of overlap in the content of environmental

education and population education; this can be mutually

beneficial. For example, a project to remove land pollution (i.e.,

litter) from the school yard can teach young children that their

planned actions can produce visible results (an improved

landscape). If carefully planned, supervised, and followed up with

discussion, this can become an important learning experience rather

than an unpleasant chore.

     Just as key environmental concepts should be included in

population education, so should relevant population concepts be

dealt with in environmental education. This will require

collaboration between population educators and environmental


     Environmental education should emphasize the ways in which

humanity depends on and has a profound impact on the environment.

One way to get this message across is to explain what ecosystems

are and how they function, and then to explain how various kinds of

human interventions affect them.

     2.   Family life and human sexuality contents

     Family life and human sexuality are universally important

sources of content for population education. The topics that emerge

from these content areas are treated somewhat differently in

different cultures, because behaviour varies with culture.

     Family life may be considered from both macro and micro

perspectives. For example, learners need to understand that there

are different family configurations and lifestyles. This may help

them appreciate cultural differences. At the same time, both family

life and human sexuality have direct personal relevance for the

learner, and such topics as human reproduction and responsible

behaviour require attention sufficient to meet basic learning


     Despite vast cultural differences, a number of core concepts

and principles can be applied universally in the teaching of these

content areas. These are explained in Annex I. Details of the

approaches to be used should be left to individual countries, where

research can identify specific practices and views that influence

local behaviour patterns.

     While Western models of family life and sex education may

provide useful references, their activities and materials must be

used with care, and should be adapted to the culture in which they

are to be used. Once adaptations are complete, and it is clear how

new materials are to be used and which specific issues will be

addressed, parents should be consulted before going further, in

order to avoid misunderstanding later on (see the section on

parents' participation below). 

     3.   AIDS education as part of population education

     The emergence of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and

acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS) poses a challenge to

educators, in view of its global importance and the complexities of

dealing with it in the classroom.

     Two aspects of the phenomenon lend themselves to incorporation

in population education curricula. First, AIDS has a demographic

impact, which translates into an impact on development. Second,

because the virus is commonly transmitted through sexual contact,

preventive measures can be covered in the sexuality component of

population education. This is already happening in some countries.

In this connection, it should be stressed that AIDS is increasingly

being spread through heterosexual contact, elevating the risk for


     In demographic terms, the age pyramids of developing countries

are broad at the bottom, indicating large numbers of children, and

small at the top, indicating smaller numbers of elderly people.

Those in the middle age-range support the others economically; AIDS

frequently attacks individuals in this age range, who tend to be

sexually active. As the epidemic spreads, it reduces the size of

this group and its ability to sustain the older and younger

segments of the population, thereby having an important negative

impact on socio-economic development. It is important that students

(and others) understand this macro-level phenomenon, if community

recognition of the problem is to be achieved and preventive

measures supported.

     Given the likelihood that in the foreseeable future there will

be no cure for AIDS that can be applied on a massive scale,

education has a major role to play in prevention. Learners need to

understand modes of transmission and ways to avoid infection.

     This issue poses a special problem for population educators,

who have long agreed that aspects of human sexuality should be

dealt with as positive elements of life. The challenge is to help

learners develop positive sexual attitudes and outlooks, while

instilling the judgement skills necessary for life-protecting


     4.   Gender issues

     Population education should not only teach about gender

issues; it should also help students (especially older ones) to

form positive attitudes and values regarding gender. Including the

following concepts and approaches in school curricula will foster

positive attitudes and encourage students to think about gender


     o    Fairness, or equitable treatment of males and females,

should be stressed as an underlying principle.

     o    Harmful stereotypes of both sexes should be exposed as

such and analysed. Classroom debate is one effective way of

approaching this issue.

     o    Girls have a right to know the implications of early

pregnancy for their future. Boys also need to know the

implications, for girls as well as for themselves. Both need to

know how to avoid early pregnancy and to behave responsibly.

     o    Alternative role models for women and men should be

explored in the classroom, and children should be encouraged not to

view their futures as limited by traditional "male" and "female"

job categories.

     o    Analysis of gender roles should be encouraged, including

not only occupational roles, but also domestic roles, kinship

roles, roles as community leaders, conjugal roles and parental

roles. Students should understand the implications the different

male and female roles have for decision-making power, job

opportunities, use of time, control over finances, and access to

knowledge and training opportunities.

     o    The term "opposite sex" in English is sometimes

mistakenly translated into other languages as "the opposing sex",

implying conflict. It should be made clear to children that

different does not mean bad or less worthy.

     5.   Appropriate family planning content for population


     Including family planning in the design of school population

education curricula allows young people to reflect over time on the

implications of family planning and un- spaced births. Of course,

not all family planning issues are appropriate for school

audiences. Just as in other content areas, priorities have to be


     Because of the importance of family planning, and because some

school authorities have had difficulty in selecting and introducing

the most appropriate family planning topics, this issue is given

more attention in this report than some other important issues.

     The idea that it is both advisable and possible to plan

pregnancies should be introduced early. In addition, the rationale

for family planning should be introduced early and repeated as

children grow older. Specific methods may be discussed after the

rationale for their use is understood; discussing methods earlier

accomplishes little and may even be counter-productive if

misunderstandings result.

     Few teenagers and young adults are aware of some important

facts about family planning: one is that it takes time for the body

to adjust to oral contraceptives, and consequently a woman is not

fully protected against pregnancy until she has been taking the

pill for one month; another is that the effectiveness of oral

contraceptives is reduced by heavy smoking, the use of some

antibiotics and tranquillizers, and diarrhoea. There are many other

such points that may be taught in a school setting (others may be

taught by health workers).

     In addition, to counter popular myths held by teenagers

regarding reproductive behaviour, it is extremely useful for middle

and secondary-school teachers to keep a list of such myths and

address them in the classroom.

          a.    Facts for life

     The World Health Organization (WHO), the United Nations

Children's Fund (UNICEF), UNFPA, UNESCO and others agree that the

following four points are universally applicable and important

(details may be found in Annex II):

     o    Becoming pregnant before age 18, or after age 35,

increases the health risks for both mother and child.

     o    The risk of death for young children is increased by

about 50 per cent if the interval between births is less than two


     o    Having more than four children increases the health

risks of pregnancy and childbirth.

     o    There are many safe and acceptable ways to avoid

pregnancy. Family planning services can give couples the knowledge

and the means to plan when to begin having children, how far apart

to have them, and when to stop.

          b.    Family size

     While family size is not the first consideration of an

educator, it deserves some emphasis in school curricula. The

family-size decisions of today's teenagers and their children will

determine whether, or how soon, the world's population will double


     Family-size ideals change over time in response to a

combination of variables including the values developed during

childhood and the situation facing couples at the time reproductive

decisions are made. Before a couple can make decisions about family

size, they must first understand that it is possible to make such

a decision. Second, they must have the tools (i.e., family planning

methods) to implement their decisions. Third, they must be

motivated to take action.


     A number of adult education programmes have given high

priority to inculcating the "small-family norm". Unfortunately, the

approach followed has tended not to take into account either

natural learning patterns or the various subjective factors that

affect a couple's decision-making about family size.

     For young audiences, the concept of family size may be

introduced as something that will require future action, to be

taken after considering a number of practical issues, e.g., the

cost of providing one's children with adequate food, clothing,

health care and education. This approach can be taught early, and

it is far more effective than, for example, attempting to teach a

child at age 7 that as an adult she should have only two children.

     In this connection, it is important to compare the needs of

families today with the needs of families in the past, and with the

needs of the families that today's students will form in the


          c.    Planning the first birth

     Planning the birth of a couple's first child is important for

a number of reasons. It gives the couple control over their

fertility at the outset, and increases the chances that the first

and subsequent births will be safe and the children healthy. The

couple may need time to set aside resources, or to complete formal

education before a new baby changes their lifestyle.

     Finally, the couple may need time to adjust to living

together. The early arrival of a baby often strains new


     o    The importance of and the rationale for planning the

first birth can be taught in late-primary, middle and secondary


     o    Schools can also teach young people about the various

types of social pressure to have the first baby early, and how to

resist this pressure.

     o    Oral contraceptives may require a month of use before

they become effective. Making this information available to older

students could prevent many unplanned pregnancies.

          d.    Prevention of birth defects

     The role of family planning in the prevention of birth defects

is another concept that may be introduced at late-primary, middle

and secondary levels. It is referred to here in some detail,

because general awareness about this issue is limited.

     The early stage of pregnancy, especially the first six weeks,

is the period when the embryo is the most vulnerable to drugs and

other external factors that can cause birth defects when expectant

mothers consume or are exposed to them. Women may be encouraged to

take precautions against these threats once they know they are

pregnant, but by then, damage may already have occurred.

     If couples are planning a pregnancy and are aware of the

heightened risks during the early weeks, they can take the

necessary precautions (avoiding, e.g., drugs of any kind, alcohol,

smoking and X-rays) before the pregnancy is confirmed. This is the

most effective thing a couple can do to avert preventable birth


     Recent research has determined that certain nutritional

deficiencies can also contribute to birth defects. If a woman

consumes 0.4 milligrams of folacin (folic acid) daily, beginning at

least one month before the pregnancy begins and continuing at least

through the early stages, the likelihood of a neural tube defect in

her child is reduced by half. (Folic acid may be taken as a dietary

supplement, and is also found in a number of foods that are popular

in many parts of the world, such as lentils, black-eyed peas,

oranges and chick-peas.) Here, again, planning a pregnancy is key

to taking action that may prevent birth defects.

     6.   Parenthood as an option

     The idea that parenthood is an option, rather than an

obligation, is still a revolutionary concept in much of the world,

although it is accepted in some countries. Greater acceptance of

this notion could have an important impact on future population

growth. Whether this occurs will depend, to a great extent, on the

efforts of population educators, communicators and journalists.

     Having children is not simply a "right" to be taken for

granted; it is a heavy responsibility. There is no "social

obligation" to have children, but there is a major obligation to

care for those that are born. The perception that parenthood is

optional might actually lead to stronger families in the future.

     We no longer live in an age when reproduction on a massive

scale is necessary for the survival of the species, yet many people

behave as if we did. Couples are still expected to become parents,

often as soon as possible after marriage. Women are expected to

"prove" their fertility, and childless couples in most countries

are presumed to be either unfortunate or selfish. Few people ever

stop to think how harmful  or cruel  these popular prejudices


     Clearly, not everyone is psychologically equipped to be a good

parent. Not everyone has the patience necessary to nurture a

child's development and provide support when it is most needed.

     Child neglect and child abuse are becoming major problems in

many cultures. A neglected or abused child is not likely to have

been a wanted child. He or she may be the result of an unplanned,

undesired pregnancy, or the parents may have felt a social

obligation to have a baby without reflecting on the implications.

     Today, in principle, most people have the option of

controlling their own fertility. However, not all couples are able

to exercise that option freely. Even when they have access to

services, young couples in particular frequently face strong social

pressure to bear children.

     There is no longer any valid reason for anyone to be subjected

to social pressure either to get married or to have children. Young

people in the school system need to understand this, so they can

resist unwanted pressure to marry or have children.

     7.   Early development of responsibility

     The right of everyone to accurate information and education on

reproductive health, and to a safe and healthy environment, needs

to be stressed. However, it is also important for children (and

adults) to understand that rights carry responsibilities.

     Responsibility is a concept that runs through all the basic

content areas of population education. In the area of family life,

for example, emphasis should be given to what parental

responsibility actually entails.

     It is important for everyone in secondary school to be aware

of the need to provide infants with early intellectual stimulation,

proper nutrition and health care; and understand the role of

fathers in providing these. Young people should also understand the

importance of timing a pregnancy, and of being psychologically

ready to provide the patience and understanding necessary to be a

good parent.

     Child abuse can similarly be addressed by family-life

education that stresses what is required to be a parent and what is

undesirable. Since this problem varies in different cultures,

research into its exact dimensions and causes will be required to

develop appropriate educational responses.


     The concept of assertiveness is an important one for children,

especially those likely to grow up at risk of early pregnancy. This

is also an area in which rights should be stressed.

     Children should learn that they have specific rights which may

protect them in certain circumstances. For example, they have the

right to refuse any request that threatens them or encourages them

to engage in behaviour they know is inappropriate, and they have

the right to change their minds when they realize they may have

spoken or acted too hastily. They should also understand that while

it is not always possible to control one's feelings, it is possible

and desirable to control one's behaviour.

     8.   Changing the approach to teaching demographic concepts

     Because schoolchildren will one day become leaders of their

communities and countries, it is important that formal population

education stress demographic concepts, as well as linkages between

population and the environment. But most of them will also become

parents, and all will have to pass through the difficult stage of

puberty. Therefore, population education also has to include issues

of family life and human sexuality.

     Too often, demography is taught as a set of figures, resulting

in boredom for both teachers and children. A number of countries

have demonstrated that demographic issues can be taught in an

interesting way. The emphasis needs to go beyond the basic

concepts, to focus on the future.

     Demographic learning is important to help prepare children for

the changes likely to result from rapid population growth, which

will profoundly affect the world they will inhabit as adults. They

need to understand the implications of international and internal

migration, and rapid urbanization, so that when they are in

decision-making positions they can take appropriate action to

influence migration patterns, reduce the negative impacts, and cope

with the effects of these phenomena. Little of this type of

preparation is now part of school curricula.

     In addition, such demographic concepts as family size should

be made personally relevant to the learner as much as possible.

     9.   Ageing

     In the future, as more people live longer, the proportion the

population that is elderly will be greater than it is today. The

impact  economic, psychological and sociological  of this

relatively new global process of ageing is already being felt,

especially in industrialized countries, where growing numbers of

the elderly live apart from their children. The cost to families of

supporting elderly parents or grandparents and providing health

care is considerable.

     Traditionally, most cultures have greatly respected the

elderly. But rapid socio- economic change has increasingly

separated family members, reducing their social and psychological

support of each other. This has left many elderly people with a

feeling of being neglected, and denied the respect that their own

parents and grandparents received.

     Ageing is particularly significant for women. Women tend to

survive longer after the death of a spouse, and remarry less often

after divorce, than men. In many countries, because of differential

access to education and paid employment in the past, elderly women

are likely to be less educated and to have less access to social

security benefits than men.

     Another important issue is forced retirement, which deprives

society of experienced, productive individuals.

     Although the elderly population's relative size in most

developing countries is small, its rate of growth is rapid.

Population education has a role to play in making young learners

aware of this increasingly serious situation and its implications

for their parents and themselves.

     The education system can also help ensure that positive

traditional values formerly transmitted by the family, such as

respect for the elderly and understanding of their need for

support, not be lost in the process of modernization.

     10.  Application of general concerns to population issues

     Many countries have adopted curricula designed to teach

responsible behaviour and respect for others in a broad sense. The

task for population educators is to make these concepts clear to

students as they apply to population and reproductive behaviour.

     For example, boys need to be taught that they have a

responsibility to respect girls' rights, which includes avoiding

sexual suggestions that may be perceived as threatening, or

behaviour that could result in unintended pregnancy. Respect, in

this instance, means not taking advantage of the other person or

acting in such a way that might jeopardize her future. 


     Population issues are so far-reaching that it is theoretically

possible to introduce some aspect of population in every area of

the school curriculum. This is neither feasible nor desirable. When

attempts have been made to include too much in curricula, the

results have been counter-productive.

     Educators sometimes have difficulty drawing distinctions

between population and related development issues, and consequently

try to incorporate topics that are somewhat marginal to the most

crucial population issues. When this occurs, the effect is to water

down more important population content, as evaluations of country

projects have shown.

     The objectives of a population education project should be

spelt out clearly when the project is designed (these may be

revised as the issues to be addressed by the school project come

into clearer focus). The curriculum contents must be selected at

the same time, based on their potential contribution to meeting

these stated objectives. The clearer and more specific the

objectives, the easier it will be to select appropriate educational

topics and approaches to teaching them. 


     1.   Ordering of concepts

     Children's ability to grasp certain concepts and their

intricate details increases with age, yet many school systems do

not take this into account. Little research is carried out in

developing countries to determine exactly what children at each age

level are capable of learning; this type of research should be


     At the same time, concepts need to be introduced in a logical

order so they make sense to the learner. Many values and attitudes

that may affect population behaviour are formed early in life. For

this reason, learning activities that influence the formation of

attitudes and values should receive priority attention early in the

curriculum. "Facts" can come later, building upon a strong base of

attitudes and values. The knowledge base can then be expanded, and

applied to family formation and courting behaviour, for instance.

     Even primary school children can learn from activities that

decisions can and should be made, responsible behaviour is

desirable, and actions carry responsibilities. In fact, this

understanding is especially important for primary school children

because many will leave school after the fourth year. In so far as

possible, this particular type of learning should be framed in a

population context.

     As indicated above, family planning has an important place in

population education content. However, it has to be treated

properly and with care if it is to be meaningful and effective.

There is an order to be followed; the rationale for family planning

should be developed fully before moving into descriptions of

specific contraceptives and their use, and other potentially

controversial topics. Rationale can be developed very early, and

contraceptives can wait until the audience is at a sexually-active

age. Even with adults, discussing methods before the rationale for

their use is understood is not likely to produce positive results.

     2.   Positioning population content in the curriculum

     Countries have used various approaches in placing population

education content within appropriate school curricula. These

include integration with "carrier" courses, a separate-unit

approach, and treating population as a separate subject.

     Most countries have used infusion or the integration approach

to population education, mainly because curricula are so crowded

with other subjects. In many cases this approach has been found to

be relatively ineffective, because population topics are spread

over five or six subjects, diluting the content so that coherence

and focus are lost.

     Sometimes, population contents are so diffused in the "carrier

subject" that it becomes difficult to identify any population

content in the textbooks. Moreover, some of the most important

population concepts are sometimes left out of curricula and

textbooks because curriculum developers and textbook writers lack

training in population education.

     Despite the weaknesses of this approach, it is generally the

most feasible for most countries, because it takes advantage of

structures already in place. One way to make it a more effective

approach is to provide adequate training to curriculum developers

and textbook writers. Another is to ensure that key concepts are

selected on a priority basis.

     The scientific and health aspects of human reproduction have

a logical place in the teaching of science. The affective and

behavioural aspects are vital to making this content meaningful in

terms of reproductive responsibility. Teacher training usually

includes attention to the scientific aspects (although textbooks

and teachers sometimes avoid them), but needs to devote more

attention to the health, affective and behavioural aspects.

     Environmental issues are both biological and political, and

can logically be introduced in natural and social sciences.

Humanity's impact on ecosystems is a key entry point for population

issues. Combining these issues with development themes (or

development education) can further increase population education's


     Some countries have introduced population education as a

separate elective course at the secondary level. This approach is

the best one, ideally, as it assures inclusion of all core

population education topics. It also minimizes the cost of training


     Since the addition of a separate course in population

education is not feasible for all countries, some have used the

"unit" approach. This may involve including a chapter or two on

population in the textbooks of related school subjects at various

grade levels.

     A different approach with the same name may also be applied at

secondary level. In this approach, several key topics are selected

for concentration in a series of units, each of which is taught for

a month or six weeks during the same classroom time period over the

school year. In this way, environmental education, drug abuse

education, health education, and other population-related topics

can receive focused attention for a short period of time. To gain

the benefits of cumulative learning, this activity should be

repeated in more than one school year.

     Both of these "unit" approaches minimize the risk of diluting

the population content. Many countries are now finding it effective

to use a combination of unit and integration approaches.

     Regardless of the structural approach taken, the attitudes of

teachers and supervisors will be a major factor in determining the

success of population education. Attitudes may be influenced

through training, but teachers who bring favourable attitudes to

the job are usually the most effective ones.


     Parental involvement in a school population education project

or programme can make a great deal of difference in its acceptance.

Parents who are informed about the contents of and rationale for

population education often become the strongest supporters of a


     In numerous countries, parents and community leaders have met

with school officials before new content was introduced in the

local school programme. These sessions have identified problems and

appropriate responses in terms of curriculum content. This approach

has led to strong community support for population education from

the outset of the activities, based upon an understanding of what

is involved.

     Programmes for parents can be offered just prior to

introduction of new classroom curricula. Every year an introductory

session can inform parents about what the course will cover, alert

them to any child homework that may involve them, and reassure them

so they will not be embarrassed or uncomfortable. The curriculum or

simple materials may be sent home, and parents may be given the

option to contact the teacher with questions or remove their child

from a sensitive course.

     While some of these suggestions apply mostly to educated

parents, illiterate parents should also be involved. This can be

done through parent-teacher associations, adult-education

activities, and community-group meetings. 


     Children have to be taught to think, to reason, to analyse

rather than accepting whatever they hear. This kind of learning

originates with early child-rearing, which can encourage analytical

thinking or discourage it. Parent-education programmes can help new

parents avoid behaviour that discourages intellectual growth in

children; unfortunately, few such programmes exist. Schools can

also play an important role in promoting analytical thinking among



     1.   Teaching future-oriented thinking and 

          problem-solving skills

     Population education, like all education, aims to prepare

children for the future. The increasingly rapid pace of change

implies the need to equip children with the analytical and

problem-solving skills to deal with situations as yet undefined,

and to develop "futuristic-thinking" skills.

     At the same time, children can be taught about projections of

what the future will be like. They should learn what projections

are, and that they are valuable, if imprecise, tools. They can also

learn to identify precautions or steps that may be taken to

safeguard the quality of life in case alarming projections prove


     In this connection, the study of history offers an opportunity

to learn about past mistakes, to avoid repeating them. History also

offers another lesson in futuristic thinking: be prepared for the


     2.   Recognizing and analysing propaganda

     Older children should be taught to analyse newspaper articles,

and to recognize when writers or publication owners have a vested

interest that may result in misleading information. Sensational

articles on oral contraceptives, for instance, are a common

occurrence in some parts of the world.

     A U.S. publication addressed to adolescents once published the

following tips on how to identify propaganda:

     "The dictionary defines propaganda as ideas, information, or

rumours spread deliberately in order to help a cause, person, or

institute. Propaganda is used to influence people. It stretches the

truth in order to sway people's opinion. ...

     Propaganda can be hard to spot. It's not always easy to

distinguish between propaganda and facts. You should get in the

habit of asking yourself questions about what you read, hear, and

see. Here are a few things to remember:

     o    Be sure you're getting all the facts. Propaganda often

uses facts to mislead  to sell an idea. Ask yourself: Are you

getting all the facts? Are the facts correct? Or are you being told

only one side of the story? People who write propaganda often use

only those facts which back up their side of the story.

     o    Watch out for scapegoats. A scapegoat is a person or

thing which gets all the blame for a problem. People who use

scapegoats are not being completely honest, and may be using


     o    Beware of name-calling. Certain words arouse strong

feelings in people. Propaganda often uses words that people dislike

to label someone or something. ... Instead of accurately

describing a person's beliefs, propaganda tries to slap an

unpopular label on them. ...

     o    Distrust simple solutions. No situation is all black or

white. The truth is usually in the grey area in between. Be

cautious when people tell you only one side of the story. Take the

time to get the whole story. Check another source of information."

     3.   Participatory learning

     Participatory learning has long been a key part of population

education theory, and its value is well documented. The concept is

not being applied as widely as it should be, apparently because

some educators find it difficult to grasp. Population educators, at

all levels, need to ensure that the concept is understood and

applied (refresher training may be necessary).

     When teachers are trained in this methodology, they need to

experience it. Participatory approaches cannot be learned by only

listening to lectures or reading.

     4.   Affect

     The affect of what learners are taught, i.e., their feelings

about the implications of what they have learned, has not been

stressed in the past. Learning must go beyond memorization of facts

to include development of, inter alia, respect for others, and

dedication to protection of the earth's natural resources. Dynamic

teachers are able to inspire children, and to help them develop

feelings of commitment. More learners need to benefit from such

action. Participatory learning and values-clarification exercises

can both contribute to this end.

     5.   Values clarification

     Values clarification has been encouraged from the beginning of

population education. It has not been widely understood, however,

and therefore has not been widely applied.

     Values tend to change very slowly, in response to a number of

influences. Education can help facilitate this process, by helping

learners understand their own values, and those of others' that may

be in conflict with these. Values-clarification techniques include

role playing, discussions, debates and games.

     In a classroom exercise in values clarification in regard to

gender, for example, students are divided into debating teams to

consider a list of gender stereotypes. One team argues in support

of the stereotypes; the opposing team argues against them. In the

second round, the teams switch sides; this encourages both sides to

reexamine commonly-held beliefs and values that may be

discriminatory and harmful, especially to girls and women.

     Similar exercises may be conducted using role playing and

discussion to examine real-life situations that lead to adolescent

pregnancy, decisions relating to migration, etc. These activities

should encourage children to reflect on the implications of their

decisions, and the attitudes and values that influence them. 


     One of the most important contributions population education

can make to an education system is the introduction of more

effective, participatory methods of teaching. These teaching

techniques have to be applied in teacher training, rather than

simply explained in lectures, and practised under supervision as

new skills are developed and refined. In the process, prospective

teachers may be helped in clarifying their own values on population


     Up to now, in most countries, teacher-training objectives have

not included modification of the teachers' own family planning

behaviour. Large number of teachers being trained in population

education are in the reproductive age group and have a need for

family planning information, which national training programmes

could address in their own way. Just as with teaching children, the

rationale for family planning must be made clear before going into

specific methods, to ensure the formation of positive attitudes

towards family planning.


     1.   Pre-service teacher preparation

     It is valuable to reach young teachers with population

education during their training, when they can devote more time to

the subject than is usually available through in-service courses.

Both teacher training institutes and university schools of

education should receive inputs from a population education

project, so that their programmes will address the specific needs

of the school curriculum being developed.

     2.   In-service teacher training

     In-service training is usually an expensive undertaking. It

requires a great deal of planning and preparation to have the

desired impact. Several key issues follow:

          a.    Selection of teachers

     Some teacher-training activities have aimed for universal

coverage of teachers in the subject areas selected for

concentration of population concepts. Issues of cost and quality

are now forcing educators to ask whether all teachers who teach the

relevant subjects should receive training in population education,

or whether it might not be better to be selective in some


     When dealing with a potentially sensitive subject matter, such

as human sexuality, it is preferable that those uncomfortable with

the topic, and those with reputations as poor teachers, not be

involved. If such a selection is made, meaning that not all

children will be exposed to particular concepts, care must be taken

to avoid these concepts in examination questions (see the reference

in section H below to indicators of institutionalization).

     In 1992, the Ministry of Education of Zanzibar developed a

Curriculum Guide and Resource Manual for Family Life Education

which contains a list of criteria for the selection of teachers to

teach sensitive subject matter in sexuality and family life. This

list, "Characteristics of Effective Teachers ..." may be found in

Annex III; other countries may want to adapt the list to meet their

specific needs. Experience in Zanzibar and elsewhere suggests that

such selection of teachers is best carried out by supervisors who

know the individuals (possibly together with parent groups).

          b.    Cost-effective strategies for in-service training

     For a number of years, population educators have been

concerned with finding the most cost-effective ways to carry out

in-service teacher training, and have developed several models. A

combination of approaches, such as Egypt used in the early days of

its population education programme, has usually proven the most

valuable. While it is always important to look for ways to

economize, the least- expensive approaches to teacher training are

not always cost-effective, and may even be wasteful if little or no

learning occurs.

     A frequently-used "linked" approach  to training adds a modest

amount of time to training activities in the subject areas into

which population education has been integrated. This approach may

not give population all the attention it needs, but it is

economical; it may be most effective when used as a supplement to

other types of training.

     In the "cascade" or tier approach, traditionally favoured by

population educators, a central nucleus of trainers trains a second

layer which, in turn, trains a third, and so on. This approach has

a serious weakness in the loss of content that occurs with the

involvement of each new tier of trainers. Knowledge held by the

core trainers may not reach the classroom teachers after being

filtered through intermediate trainers.

     A face-to-face approach, while costly, may be a more practical

solution, when used in combination with correspondence or distance

learning. Issues and teaching techniques that cannot be taught

effectively only by distance methods can be selected for

short-term, high-quality face-to-face sessions, leaving the other

content to be learned through distance methods.

     Printed and audio/visual material can be used to introduce

potentially-sensitive ideas tactfully and gradually. Then, in

face-to-face sessions, trainers can clarify questions or address

doubts about the material. There should also be a mechanism for

teachers to raise questions later, either by mail, phone or brief

refresher face-to-face sessions, after they have tried out new

subject matter in the classroom.

     Teacher-training activities should be scheduled to follow the

production of teaching materials, so that teachers are trained

using the same materials they will later use in the classroom.

Teachers should begin applying what they have learned soon after

training. Conflicts in teachers' schedules, and competition from

other sources for their time, should be minimized. Planners need to

examine economic and other factors that may influence teacher

participation. Consideration should also be given to the different

needs of the various categories of teachers to be trained.

     In Egypt, before funds were available for large-scale

training, officials responsible for population education devised a

low-cost scheme that relied heavily on correspondence, and selected

the most-interested teachers for face-to-face training. Teachers

who wanted to participate in a population education exercise were

mailed a collection of reading materials to analyse and react to.

Those whose reactions indicated that they had understood the

materials received a field-work assignment to organize and conduct

a community population census and report their findings.

     Those able to fulfil this requirement were asked to write an

essay on a population topic. The authors of the best essays were

invited to the capital to participate in a short, face-to-face

educational course. The result was a core group of highly-motivated

teachers who had received more than one type of training. 


     One perplexing problem facing population education is the cost

involved in planning, printing and distributing educational

materials in sufficient quantity to be effective.

     Paper is costly, and availability is usually limited. However,

several bilateral donors, notably Scandinavian countries that

produce a surplus of paper, have been willing to donate it to

developing countries for educational purposes, as part of their

foreign aid or cooperation programmes.

     Generally, the most effective use of scarce paper is for

teachers' guides. These explain the purpose of each lesson plan,

how to teach it and what results should be expected. Normally,

supplementary materials for children are prohibitively expensive,

but if paper supplies permit, workbooks for children can be a major

asset to learning and an excellent aid in monitoring pupils'


     In many countries, good population education materials already

developed for other audiences may be adapted for school use.

International publications like the now well-known Facts for Life

may also be translated for use in schools.

     Under another innovative approach to materials, used in Sri

Lanka, a mobile library was set up to serve trainees at training

sites scattered around the country, using a government vehicle that

regularly delivered supplies to distant education centres.

     In Peru, a nationally-circulated newspaper agreed to publish

a weekly population education supplement for teachers, prepared by

population education project staff. The general reading public

proved to be interested in the topic and sales of the newspaper

increased significantly, making the publisher willing to continue

publishing the supplement.

     Teachers often rely heavily on textbooks written by

independent authors or private publishing firms and sold to

students. One inexpensive way to ensure that new textbooks

incorporate appropriate population content is to conduct special

training courses for authors. It should not be difficult to

persuade publishers to participate once it is apparent that the

Ministry of Education is fully behind population education and

expects new textbooks to give the subject appropriate attention.

The ministry will need to provide authors with new curricula,

reference materials and possibly follow-up guidance. Existing

distribution channels should be used before creating new ones. 


     Principal research issues in population education that need

immediate attention are:

     o    Research to identify the main determinants of fertility

that can be addressed through education.

     o    Identification of the educational methods that produce

the best results in population education.

     o    Establishment of links with efforts by the campaign for

Education For All to measure Learning Achievement, and use of this

to measure the impact of population education.

     o    Research to identify discrepancies between the processes

of learning and those of teaching.

     o    Research on the perception of educators at various

levels regarding population issues, especially fertility.

     o    Research on the process of decision-making (and better

use of what is already known about this process).

     o    Research to determine children's intellectual capacity

for grasping concepts, by grade level. This type of research,

rarely conducted in poor countries, is needed for population

education and education in general.

     o    Research on increasing the effectiveness of teaching

through adaptation to students' different learning styles.

     This last issue is new and insufficiently explored. Some

children, often those from homes where education is valued highly,

are adept at learning in the classroom. Others have difficulty

responding to teachers' demands and are sometimes disruptive. Many

drop out as soon as it is legally possible for them to do so. These

young people should not be assumed to be incapable of learning.

Once they leave school, many become skilled in the ways of "the

street". School systems are not tapping their learning potential.

     Importantly for population educators, youth disaffected with

school are often involved in early, unplanned pregnancies. 

     Teachers can be taught to identify these "problem children"

before they drop out, and special programmes can be developed to

tap their ability to learn, so they can function more productively

in school and in society. This will require investment in research

and development of new teaching techniques designed especially for

this type of learner. Population organizations, donors with broader

mandates, and organizations involved in education,

adolescent-pregnancy reduction, crime prevention, etc., all have an

interest in addressing this problem in a coordinated effort. 


     Evaluation is an important part of population education and

should be included: in the process of designing programmes; as a

means of improving programmes that are being implemented; and to

determine the strengths and weaknesses of programmes at their

conclusion. If adequate attention is given to evaluation

considerations in the design of a programme, and good monitoring

provides relevant feedback which is then used to make needed

adjustments, the final evaluation is likely to indicate the effort

was a success.

     Comprehensive "external" evaluations have been conducted in

several countries, e.g., Bangladesh, Burundi, the Dominican

Republic, El Salvador, Honduras, India, Morocco, Paraguay and Sri

Lanka; and smaller-scale evaluations have been conducted by project

staff in many areas.

     Programme impact has been measured, for example, in China,

where delayed marriage resulting from exposure to population

education has been documented. In a number of countries in every

region, it has been observed that seeing children's enthusiastic

reaction to population education has a positive impact on teachers'


     Findings from evaluations have generally been positive

(projects receive political support, children learn population

facts, and teachers are enthusiastic about new teaching methods),

but important weaknesses have been identified, including weaknesses

in evaluation design and methodologies. While each evaluation has

been project-specific, common shortcomings include inadequate

numbers of teachers trained, and a failure to set priorities


     There remains an important unmet need to coordinate evaluation

efforts with health services in older projects. In some instances,

e.g., in Bangladesh, young couples who have been exposed to

population education in school over a number of years have been

observed seeking family planning services to plan their first

pregnancies. This has occurred without the motivational efforts of

health service providers or IEC targeting, implying a direct link

to population education. Evaluations need to take these behavioural

changes into account, but this is only feasible with the use of

health/family planning service records, requiring a coordinated


     The key to successful evaluation of population education is to

identify the issues clearly. Two broad components of evaluation can

be readily applied. One is the measurement of learning achievement;

this may be the easier of the two to apply, despite the global

difficulties general education faces in this area.

     The second component is monitoring of project activities, with

a view to keeping them on track or bringing them back into line

with project objectives. This involves process evaluation, and

requires early identification of achievement indicators. These

should be clear to project staff, so they know what to aim for.

     Impact evaluation, may also be applicable in population

education, but only if it is defined very clearly and understood by

all concerned. If "impact" is taken to mean "impact on the

reproductive behaviour of children once they become adults",

evaluation implies a long-term study, an approach that is expensive

and not very feasible. It may be possible, however, to measure the

impact of a training course on participants in terms of knowledge

gained, for example. Programme impact can also be measured in terms

of changes in attitude and intermediate behaviour.

     In general, evaluation of population education should include

the following:

     o    Early collection of baseline data describing the

situation with specific indicators.

     o    Measurement of the degree to which objectives have been

achieved, requiring that objectives be both clear and measurable.

     o    Monitoring the process of implementation throughout the

course of the project.

     o    Documenting project results, at crucial stages in its

implementation and at its completion, comparing results with the

indicators agreed upon earlier (including changes in knowledge and


     Evaluation does not have to be sophisticated or costly. Simply

keeping track of numbers of teachers trained, by level and subject,

and numbers of schools served by trained teachers, will give

managers a good idea of the coverage and growth of their projects.

Documentation in the form of anecdotes is one useful way of

indicating qualitative achievements. These two kinds of monitoring

can begin immediately, while more intricate evaluation mechanisms

are being designed. 


     Institutionalization is a goal of most population education

projects. Project staff generally hope that, after an introductory

period, the new concepts and methodologies they introduce will be

fully accepted as legitimate, permanent components of the national

education system, without being largely dependent upon external


     Indicators of institutionalization need to be clear from the

outset of a project, and the objectives and activities should aim

for their achievement. While the process of institutionalization is

usually long, the duration will depend on conditions in the

specific country.

     A review of recent experience suggests that three goals are

particularly important for institutionalization. First, population

contents must be included in the textbooks and other basic

materials for existing courses:

     "Most population education projects start by producing a

separate set of materials and distributing them to teachers.

Eventually, however, textbooks should be revised and, for this

purpose, textbook writers have to be trained in population issues

or population education staff can assist textbook writers in this

revision. Because textbook revision is complicated and expensive,

some population education programmes have successfully undertaken

this task in the context of a national curriculum reform.

     Second, to ensure that population issues are given sufficient

classroom time and attention, they need to be part of national or

state examinations. ... (Obviously, all population concepts in the

curriculum cannot be included in standard examinations. Only the

key issues or concepts can be selected. Priorities must be based

upon what educators determine to be the most important for children

at school to understand at each grade level. This will not be easy,

because the most important concepts will usually relate to

analytical thinking and attitude change rather than memorization of


     Third, population education needs to be included in all

pre-service teacher-training institutions. Because many

teacher-training institutions are relatively independent bodies, it

may be necessary to issue a governmental decree requiring the

inclusion of population education in pre-service training."

     When projects are designed, clear provision should be made for

achieving these three goals. The achievement of any or all of them

should be recognized as a major development in the process of

institutionalization. In addition, at some point a strategy must be

designed to train teachers who did not receive in-service training

during the life of the project, so that specific training needs can

be met with scarce resources.

     To institutionalize the key population contents developed

through a project's activities, action must be taken early to,

inter alia, select the key concepts, decide where and at what

levels they fit, test them, and establish the internal linkages and

support necessary for their transition from experimental status to

inclusion in the official curriculum.

     Population education staff should operate with an eye to the

date when national curriculum revision is scheduled to begin, so

that solid plans and agreements can be made for the transition.

Since national reforms do not occur frequently, ways need to be

developed to update out-of-date curricula in the interim between

reforms, maintaining curriculum relevance and interest and informed

teachers, without involving great expense. 


     A variety of non-governmental organizations operating at

national level may be important to population education, including

family planning associations, women's organizations, sex education

associations, environmental support groups, organizations serving

youth, civic clubs and associations of religious leaders.

     Some of these organizations can be valuable sources of

information in the design of curricula and materials for teaching

about their areas of expertise. To avoid overloading curricula,

population educators must apply priorities and select only the key

concepts from each area represented.

     Organizations serving youth may benefit from receiving

materials developed for schools, and may be able to complement this

material with supportive messages in their own materials. This, in

turn, will reinforce the school programme.

     Civic clubs, parent-teacher associations and groups of

religious leaders should be made aware of the rationale for

proposing specific population education contents, and kept informed

of project developments. This may make it possible to call on these

groups for community support of a project facing opposition. 


     Traditionally, official population education programmes have

involved only the public schools, requiring less effort than would

be needed to cover both public and private schools. In countries

with a centralized national curriculum and administration, and with

limited budgetary resources, this has been a logical approach.

However, it has left large numbers of young people without exposure

to population education concepts.

     In poor countries, children in private schools are often

better off economically than their counterparts in public schools

and therefore more likely to attain positions of leadership when

they become adults. This makes them an important audience for

population concepts. And like all children, they will need

information and education to make wise reproductive decisions in

their own lives.

     Private schools sometimes bring population issues into the

classroom via a visiting lecturer (e.g., a nurse from a family

planning clinic). The usefulness of these lectures depends on the

teaching skills of the guest and the classroom teacher's prior

preparation to ensure that the children clearly understand the

context for the new information. This approach is generally not

sufficient to meet all of the children's population education

needs. A cumulative approach, reinforcing learning over a period of

years, is necessary for a lasting impact.

     There are several obstacles to the introduction of population

education in private schools. One is logistics. Private schools are

usually autonomous, not linked by a universally-accepted curriculum

and/or administration, although they may follow elements of the

national curriculum as a core. They have to be approached one by

one, a very time-consuming process.

     Many private schools have religious sponsors that may not

encourage (or permit) classroom discussion of certain population

topics (e.g., particular contraceptive methods, in the case of the

Roman Catholic Church). This restriction could result in an

unbalanced approach to population education, but is not sufficient

reason to avoid working with such schools. It is important that

children in these schools learn a number of population concepts in

addition to family planning.

     Even in these schools, official religious doctrine does not

oppose planning one's family. The controversy is about the choice

of methods to do so. In this connection, it is more important in

population education to develop a clear understanding of what

constitutes responsible behaviour, and personal commitment to it,

than to focus on contraceptive methods. Motivation to manage one's

own fertility should come before "how-to" skills, or the latter

will be largely meaningless.

     Some private schools are less well-off economically than

others, and unable to afford the printed and/or audio-visual

materials needed to teach the key concepts.

     To overcome these obstacles to working with private schools,

public-school materials may be shared with private schools (many

may be able to purchase them, at least at cost). Private-school

authorities and/or sponsors should be made aware of the value of

these materials for the private curricula. Where religious

representatives have already been brought into national or

community discussions of public-school curricula, these individuals

can help open the doors to inter-school cooperation.

     Private-school teachers may also be invited to public training

courses (preferably at their own expense), especially when these

are local or regional. This will require a concerted effort by

project staff to convince private-school teachers that population

education is not only desirable, but also well worth the time and

effort required.

     A national population education project that is just beginning

may be too weak to involve private schools. Involving them will be

easier once a strong base has been developed, and the activity has

become visible and popular among public-school teachers and


     It is probably not advisable to expend great effort trying to

recruit private schools that are very resistant to population

education; providing high-quality support to those that are

interested is preferable. Programme success is likely to provide

the best motivation for expanding outreach to new schools.




By O.J. Sikes, Jairo Palacio and Beverley Kerr

     Traditionally, population education has drawn its content from

social demography, human ecology, family life and sex education.

The specific details of this content and the areas of emphasis have

varied between countries in response to the particular requirements

of individual cultures and population situations.

      Selection and presentation of contents relating to sexual

behaviour have been particularly perplexing problems. While many

consider sex education important, it has had a turbulent history

and a number of its content areas tend to be associated with

controversy in most cultural contexts. How can we apply the most

useful concepts in sex education to population education?

     Perhaps the best place to start would be to refrain from

talking about sex education as a source of contents, and look

instead at the area of sexuality as one part of the broad knowledge

base that provides the contents for population education. Key to

the successful selection of content from the area of sexuality is

the understanding that not all topics covered by the term

"sexuality" are necessarily appropriate content for population


     Most of those aspects that are most relevant, and most

important for population goals, are usually not controversial.

Potentially inflammatory topics such as homosexuality may have

little to do with population issues or fertility decisions,

although these topics are not always unimportant. Children and

adults should have access to accurate information about them. But

means other than the population education school curriculum should

be found to make this information available in communities where it

threatens to create enough controversy to destroy the population

education project. The community library, out-of-school youth

groups, health clubs and even religious groups may be among the

possible alternate sources of information. School counsellors

should be trained especially to answer questions upon referral by

teachers or when children seek information directly on these issues

and any others deemed potentially too sensitive for the curriculum.

     In determining the most appropriate contents for population

education, it is vital to always keep the aims of the project in

mind, and to involve parents and community leaders in decisions on

what should be included. Successful involvement requires a clear

understanding of the rationale of the project. Mass media, when

used wisely, often have an important role to play in clarifying

issues and developing community support.

     The practical experience countries have had in introducing

population contents into national curricula, is leading to new ways

of perceiving contents and their appropriateness. This experience

points to the need to establish priorities in the selection of

population contents for curricula that are already crowded. Less

emphasis will have to be given to content having only marginal

relevance to population issues. This is not as easy as it may seem

at first glance, due to the broad scope and implications of

population issues. Population is, after all, an integral part of


     While it is clear that population education, environmental

education, family life education and sex education share some

important contents, population education is a different field. Its

conceptualization should correspond to population issues or

problems and it should contribute to their solution. Therefore, the

contents of population education should respond to the specific

educational needs that emerge from population issues.

     In this context, the contents of population education may be

divided into two major groupings. In the first, which might be

labelled contents for population awareness, criteria for inclusion

would include their contribution to a better understanding of the

nature, causes and consequences of the population changes

experienced by a community, country or region. This grouping draws

heavily from the fields of social demography and ecology.

     The second grouping may be called contents for critical

awareness. Criteria for consideration in this grouping would

include the intent and ability to modify the socio- cultural or

educational characteristics which influence the three population

variables: fertility (especially when it occurs too early, too late

or too frequently), mortality (especially among mothers and

infants), and migration (especially from rural to urban areas).

This paper will focus on concepts that would fall into the

"critical awareness" category.

     There are a number of basic concepts with universal

applicability. They are not controversial, if handled properly, and

they are more important than most controversial topics. Most of

these concepts are linked to a learner's ability to think and to

reason. Participatory learning, helping learners explore

alternatives, rather than only lecturing to them, helps develop

their ability to think.

     The following list is not exhaustive, nor are the concepts

spelt out in great detail, but most of the six points which follow

come from the area of human sexuality and have not been dealt with

extensively in population education literature to date.

1.   The importance of having respect for others, especially

persons of the other sex

     If children can learn this, can understand what it means, and

can develop this as a strongly held value, then they will be more

likely to refrain from behaviour which is potentially harmful to

others. It is particularly important that boys learn to respect the

rights and feelings of girls and women. To a certain extent, the

concept of respect for others is taught in the curricula of many

school systems. However, respect for girls and women is not often

emphasized. The point needs to be made clearly, by exploring

harmful stereotypes and their effects, and other activities. This

may well be the most important of all gender issues. But it is not

simply teaching about gender issues that is important. The key is

developing healthy attitudes and values. 

2.   The importance of developing self-esteem for both boys and


     This is particularly important for girls and should be

accompanied by exposure to the variety of life options (employment

opportunities, etc.) which will be opening to them if they finish

their education, avoid early pregnancy, and so forth.

     Low-esteem among women can limit the contribution that these

individuals make to society. Girls whose self-esteem is low often

see childbearing as the only way they can produce something of

value, thereby increasing their own worth. This perception may be

supported by friends and relatives. Childbearing may also be

perceived as a way of obtaining much-needed affection, either from

the baby or its father, but early childbearing limits a girl's life


     Since self-esteem is a term that is used frequently, but often

incorrectly, perhaps it is useful to attempt to clarify it here.

Self-esteem is a fundamental sense of self-worth; not merely

feeling good about oneself. In terms of its importance for

adolescents, self-esteem may be best reflected in what they can

envision for themselves in the future. When self-esteem includes a

positive vision of oneself in the future, high motivation is

possible and good, long-term results are likely. The challenge to

educators is to help children develop a positive, future-oriented

self-image. This can be brought about by helping children to

achieve competence, perseverance and optimism. Children need to

expand their visions of what they can become. When this happens, a

lasting sense of self-worth will follow.

3.   The possibility and desirability of planning

     Children should know that it is possible to make decisions, to

take action and to see results. Even very young children can and

should understand that ideally, children are born out of a

conscious, carefully thought out decision on the part of loving

parents. This may be the most important population education

concept young children can learn. It has implications for

preventing the formation of the fatalistic attitudes often found in

adults. If children learn that it is possible to decide on a

pregnancy, that is, to plan, then it will be easier for them to

function as thinking/planning adults. 

     This concept should be introduced at primary level, if it is

to have an impact. It is not necessary for a very young child to

know all of the details of the planning process (choice of

contraceptives, etc.) but it is vital that he grasp the concept. If

questions arise on how babies are born or "where did I come from?",

simple, general (but truthful) answers will usually satisfy

curiosity. Numerous publications have been written on how to answer

these questions for young children.

     Many people let "destiny" make some of the most important

decisions in their lives, including those related to fertility:

when to initiate sexual relations, when to select a marriage

partner and when to have children. One can only plan when he

understands that it is possible and desirable to do so. But such

decisions should be based upon carefully thought-out plans. This

involves values clarification and critical thinking. Education has

a major role to play in helping individuals develop planning

skills, so that they can take charge of their lives.

4.   The importance of postponing the first pregnancy

     When children leave school, at whatever age, they need to

understand the importance of postponing the first pregnancy in

terms of the benefits (economic, emotional and physical) this

planning can bring to them and their eventual offspring. This

implies that the concept needs to be taught early. Like the concept

of fertility decision-making or planning, it is one of the most

important concepts in population education.

     When a couple gets married, they usually take a year or so to

adjust to each other well enough so that a new baby coming into the

home will not put any undue strain on the relationship. Research by

physical anthropologists indicates that a woman is in the best

physical condition for pregnancy between ages twenty and thirty.

The risk of danger to the health of mother and baby is greater

during the teen years. In cultures where early marriage is the

norm, postponing the first pregnancy takes on particular importance

in terms of ensuring safe motherhood. There will often be social

pressure against such postponement, but the health considerations

are paramount.

5.   Acceptance of responsibility for the consequences of behaviour

     If adolescents behave irresponsibly in the area of

reproductive behaviour, the consequences may be life-long. Teenage

pregnancy may have dire consequences for the economic future of the

teenager and her family. Teenage mothers  frequently fail to

complete their education and this, in turn, leads to low-paid

employment or unemployment (Moore and Burt 1982).

     Mothers under age 20, whether they are married or not, tend to

suffer more pregnancy and delivery complications than do women who

bear children at age 20 or later. Some of these complications can

even lead to infertility. Pregnancy-related complications are the

leading cause of death among young women aged 15-19, globally.

Mothers aged 15 and younger are twice as likely to have low

birth-weight (that is, high-risk) babies as mothers aged 20-24

(Senderowitz and Paxman 1985).

     A number of factors have a bearing on responsible behaviour.

In addition to decision-making skills, caring is of crucial

importance. An individual must care about what happens to himself,

his partner, his family and others. Caring goes far beyond cold

reasoning. It is very much in the affective domain, but it is at

the core of responsible reproductive decision-making and behaviour,

and other forms of socially responsible behaviour. For example, if

young people do not "care" about environmental issues, they are not

likely to take even basic actions which protect their environment,

much less become involved in solving environmental problems.

6.   Ability to recognize and withstand social pressure

     We have the right to make personal decisions without pressure

from others, pressure which may reflect their interests more than

our own. This implies that we have to learn how to say yes or no,

and to change, according to our own convictions.

     Social pressure can come from peers in societies where early

adolescent sexual activity is popular. It can also come from

parents, other relatives and neighbours who expect young couples to

have their first child as soon as possible after marriage.

Population education should help learners recognize and resist

these types of social pressure. This is important at secondary

level and in non-formal education. 

     In societies where dating is customary, family living courses

often offer the opportunity for open discussion of dating practices

and strategies used by boys to convince girls to engage in sexual

activity. By exposing these behaviours and the "traps" adolescents

sometimes fall into, prevention is made easier. In both these and

other cultures, organized discussion of attitudes about early

pregnancy, available life options, how to set goals and what can be

done to attain them may allow adolescents to clarify their thinking

and to develop healthy attitudes that will shape their behaviour as

they grow. As they develop greater potential, conviction and

self-esteem, they become less susceptible to harmful social


International Review of Education, Vol. 39, Nos. 1 and 2, March

1993, Kluwer Academic Publishers, The Netherlands





     The following four points, taken from the publication Facts

for Life, are universally applicable and have been agreed upon by


     Becoming pregnant before the age of 18, or after the age of

35, increases the health risks for both mother and child.

     o    Every year over half a million women die from problems

linked to pregnancy and childbirth, leaving behind over one million

motherless children. Most of these deaths could be prevented by

acting on today's knowledge about the importance of planning


          All girls should be allowed the time to become women

before becoming mothers. In societies where many girls marry at an

early age, couples should use family planning to delay the first

pregnancy until at least the age of 18.

     o    For health reasons alone, no girl should become pregnant

before the age of 18. A woman is not physically ready to begin

bearing children until she is about eighteen years of age. Babies

born to women younger than eighteen are more likely to be born too

early and to weigh too little at birth. Such babies are much more

likely to die in the first year of life. The risks to the mother's

own health are also greater.

     o    After the age of 35, the health risks of pregnancy and

childbirth begin to increase again. If a woman is over the age of

35, and has had four or more previous pregnancies, then another

pregnancy is a serious risk to her own health and that of her

unborn child. 

     The risk of death for young children is increased by about 50

per cent if the space between births is less than two years.

     o    For the health of both mothers and children, parents

should wait until their youngest child is at least two years old

before having another baby.

     o    Children born too close together do not usually develop

as well, physically or mentally, as children born at least two

years apart.

     o    One of the greatest threats to the health and growth of

a child under the age of two is the birth of a new baby.

Breast-feeding stops too suddenly, and the mother has less time to

prepare special foods a young child needs. Also, she may not be

able to give the older child the care and attention he or she

needs, especially during illness. As a result, the child          

often fails to grow and develop properly.

     o    A mother's body needs two years to recover fully from

pregnancy and childbirth. The risk to the mother's health is

therefore greater if the next birth follows too closely upon the

last. The mother needs to give herself time to get her strength and

energy back before she becomes pregnant again.

     o    If a woman becomes pregnant before she is fully recovered

from bearing a previous child, there is a higher chance that her

new baby will be born too early and too light in weight. Low

birth-weight babies are less likely to grow well, more likely to

fall ill, and four times more likely to die in the first year of

life than babies of normal weight.

     Having more than four children increases the health risks of

pregnancy and childbirth.

     o    After a woman has had four children, further pregnancies

bring greater risks to the life and health of both mother and


          Especially if the previous births have not been spaced

more than two years apart, a woman's body can easily become

exhausted by repeated pregnancy, childbirth, breast-feeding, and

looking after small children.

          Further pregnancies usually mean that her own health

begins to suffer.

     There are many safe and acceptable ways to avoid pregnancy.

Family planning services can give couples the knowledge and the

means to plan when to begin having children, how far apart to have

them, and when to stop.

     o    Most health clinics can offer different methods of family

planning so that all couples can choose a method which is

acceptable, safe, convenient and effective. Couples should ask

advice about the most suitable means of family planning from the

nearest trained health worker or family planning clinic. Some

methods of family planning, such as condoms and          

contraceptive pills, may also be available from pharmacies and

other shops.

     o    Spacing births at least two years apart, and avoiding

pregnancies before the age of 18 and after the age of 35, can help

to ensure that each baby is born healthy and strong.


     o    Family planning is the responsibility of husbands as well

as wives. All men should be aware of the health benefits of family

planning and of the different methods available. 




     Skilled educators are vital to a successful family-life

education programme.

Good sex educators:

     o    Believe that education about family life and sexuality

is an important and necessary curriculum offering and are

enthusiastic about teaching it.

     o    Have achieved a healthy attitude towards their own

sexuality and are comfortable with the topics to be covered in the


     o    Believe that sexual adjustment is an important aspect of

total personality adjustment.

     o    Are clear on their own personal codes of ethics and

values, but are open-minded and non-judgmental about values,

attitudes, beliefs, and behaviour different from their own.

     o    Respect differing cultural and religious beliefs.

     o    Are committed to the rights of parents as the primary

sexuality educators of their children.

     o    Have sufficient intelligence to understand clearly

material about human personality that comes from a variety of

fields of knowledge and to coordinate this material coherently in

their teaching.

     o    Are willing to learn and get excited by the prospect of

new information and teaching methodologies.

     o    Can communicate with young people effectively, with

honesty, warmth, and sensitivity, verbally and non-verbally, while

maintaining an appropriate professional attitude in the

relationship with them.

     o    Have an inherent respect and concern for other persons,

whether children, youths, or adults, regardless of race,

socio-economic status or other characteristics different from their


     o    Find life satisfying and rewarding, particularly when

they can contribute to the happiness and well-being of others.

     o    Believe that adolescents are both intelligent and


     o    Can safeguard, with strict confidentiality, private and

personal material communicated to them.

     o    Can create a supportive climate that enables others,

especially young people, to express deep feelings and honest

opinions without fear of rejection or censure.

     o    Are able and willing to cooperate fully and easily with

professional colleagues and are respected by them.

     o    Have accurate, authoritative information about human

sexuality and communication skills that enable them to deal with

today's concerns and questions.

     o    Do not have to hide behind a "mask of authority" but can

say frankly, "I don't know," and talk and learn along with others.

     Age and number of years of experience have been excluded from

this list. However, educators with many years of positive

interaction with parents and young people may be found, at least

initially, more acceptable and appropriate as sex educators than

those who are young, inexperienced, and new to the district. 

Zanzibar Ministry of Education: Curriculum Guide and Resource

Manual for Family Life Education, April 1992

(Adapted from The Professional Training and Preparation of Sex

Educators, a publication of the American Association of Sex

Educators and Counselors Committee on Training and Standards, and

from The Sex Education Teacher's Guide and Resource Manual, by

Steve Bignell)



Adamson, Peter, Facts for Life, PL&A, Oxfordshire, U.K., 1989

Anderson, M., Education for All: What are We Waiting for?, UNICEF,

New York, 1992

"How to Spot Propaganda", Junior Scholastic, 8 March 1979,

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For further information, please contact: popin@undp.org
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