Preparing teachers to deliver gender-focused sexuality/HIV education: a case study from Nigeria
Recent evidence has shown that a focus on gender and power in sexuality/HIV education increases the likelihood of achieving positive sexual health outcomes, leading international agencies to call for a shift to a more gender-focused approach. However, questions remain about the implementation of such approaches, including how best to prepare teachers to deliver gender-focused curricula. These questions are are currently being navigated in the development of the national school-based HIV prevention curriculum in Nigeria, with several state governments partnering with like-minded non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to collaborate on teacher training.
To examine the success, challenges, and lessons learned from the development of this curricula, this case study concentrates on four of the states in which the collaborating NGOs had a commitment to gender equality and girls’ rights: Lagos, Calabar, Edo, and Enugu. It draws on a desk review of the Family Life and HIV Education curriculum, as well as teacher interviews and classroom observations to explore their experiences. Additionally, state-level education officials, as well as other stakeholders including federal-level officials, were interviewed to gain their perspective on the partnership between the government and NGOs in implementing the Family Life and HIV Education programme.
Teachers reported that the 10-day training included in the programme developed their competence, confidence, and commitment to foster students’ critical thinking about gender issues. Specifically, they reported changes in their own attitudes, pedagogic skills and connectedness with students, particularly girls. The findings suggest that high-quality training can prepare teachers, regardless of the scale or level of resources of institutions, to deliver the kind of gender-focused sexuality and HIV education that is proving most effective at advancing sexual health outcomes. NGOs, the study finds, should be seen as important partners for providing such training alongside state government. The author closes by noting that further research is needed to assess what additional social and educational outcomes may result from gender-focused sexuality/HIV education.