Speech of Ms. Astrid Bant, UNFPA Representative at the Orientation Workshop on the Development of the Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Secondary Teachers in Viet Nam

26 March 2019

Ms. Nguyen Thi Nghia, Vice Minister of Education and Training;

Representatives from the National Assembly, Ministry of Home Affairs, representatives from provinces, Embassies, International Organizations, Civil Society Organizations, UNESCO colleagues and media;

Ladies and gentlemen,

A very good morning to all of you;

It is my pleasure to be here today, for the Orientation Workshop on the Development of the Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Sexuality Education for Secondary Teachers in Viet Nam.

On behalf of the UNFPA and UNESCO in Viet Nam, I would like to sincerely thank the Ministry of Education and Training (MOET) for co-organizing this workshop to develop technical guidance on Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) for secondary teachers in Viet Nam. I would also like to especially thank the Honorable Vice Minister, Ms Nguyen Thi Nghia for her inspiring opening speech.

Distinguished guests,
A national workshop was organized in September 2018 by Viet Nam Institute of Education Science, with technical support from UNFPA to disseminate key findings of the Review of the situation of the sexuality and reproductive health education programmes in the secondary schools in Viet Nam. The review report provided long term recommendation to MOET to meet the international standards for age-appropriate CSE by grade, starting in Grade 1, that are set out in details in the International Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Sexuality Education jointly developed by  UNESCO, UNFPA, UNAIDS, UNICEF, WHO.

At this meeting, Vice Minister Nghia agreed to have further orientation workshop to develop technical guidance on CSE for secondary teachers in Viet Nam, and today we meet here to discuss further on this important issue.

Ladies and gentlemen,

CSE is the crossroads at which education and health meet. It is vital to advancing health outcomes and gender equality. It gives young people the knowledge and refection they need to build supportive and respectful ultimate relationships and avoid damaging ones.  It helps them navigate life-changing decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, and have healthy and secure lives.

International experiences showed that CSE can be delivered as a stand-alone subject, incorporated into a subject like health education or personal development, or fully incorporated as separate modules within relevant subjects. It should also be included in pre-service and in-service teacher training and in the system for inspections and monitoring and evaluation.

By investing in their health and education, Viet Nam can support young people’s engagement in society, ensure their well-being, and help them achieve their full potential.

Distinguished guests,

Some of the 13.5 million adolescents in Viet Nam today will be well-prepared, continuing their education and acquiring the information and skills they need to negotiate safe and pleasurable sexual relationships; choose their partners, who fit their needs; decide if and when to start a family; have options for decent employment; and play important roles in the community.

But too many adolescents, particularly girls, are woefully unprepared for this new and challenging phase in their lives. They leave school early, receive no sexuality education, enter marriages when they are still children, have children when they are still themselves children.  Many others do finish school, but have their ideas of relationships and sexuality  on unrealistic role models on social media. And there are too many adolescent boys who will not have enough information about how to take care their bodies, and of whom some will not have been educated to respect women, and will develop abuse behaviors.

Ladies and gentlemen,

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development has not only committed to leaving no one behind, it has challenged all of us to strive to reach the furthest behind first. We know who these adolescents are but we are far from achieving this.

To meet the urgent need of students on CSE, MOET  should improve the quality of the content on SRH and life skills in the newly developed curriculum and its delivery. Furthermore, to ensure CSE well integrated in the curriculum and effectively delivered to students, positive attitude of teachers as well as the technical guidance on CSE for them to use will be essential.

In 2019 work-plan, UNFPA and UNESCO will provide join support to MOET in developing a technical guidance on CSE in line with the International Technical Guidance on Comprehensive Sexuality Education.

We strongly recommend that the technical guidance should be officially issued by MOET and used widely to all Departments of Education, and schools to ensure the sustainable integration of CSE in the new secondary curriculum.

For long-term strategy, MOET needs to form an advocacy coalition with interested stakeholders, such as UN agencies, NGOs and develop a strategic advocacy plan for the inclusion of a stand-alone subject that includes CSE.

Distinguished guests,

We count on your leadership to champion the cause of CSE, and I hope that by the end of this meeting, we will agree on a roadmap for the way forward. One that will help guide how we work together, where we can strengthen and support each other, and how we can be strategic in our engagements.

In this, the United Nations, including UNFPA and UNESCO in Viet Nam has been and will continue to be your foremost supporter and partner.

Thank you.