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Experts gather in Sichuan for promoting sexuality education in China

BEIJING, China, 14 June 2018 – China has 278 million young people aged between 10 and 24, the second largest in the world. To improve the Chinese young people’s access to sexuality education, a national forum was held in Chengdu, Sichuan province, from 8-9 June 2018.

The Forum was co-hosted by China Sexology Association and Sichuan Sexuality Education Base at Chengdu University, and co-organized by Chengdu University Teachers College.

In the two-day forum, experts and educators from more than 100 professional associations, research institutions, education institutes and academia discussed the challenges and opportunities for sexuality education in China.

“Sexuality education plays an important role in the health and social development of young people in China,” said Professor Zhao Gang, Vice President of Chengdu University, “however, we still face challenges in promoting sexuality education due to the traditional values.”

In China, despite clear reasons, it is still controversial to make sexuality education and information universally accessible to young people due to cultural beliefs and traditional norms amongst the older generations, on young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights. Therefore, young people in China generally lack the knowledge, skills and attitudes that can enable them to develop a positive view of their sexuality.

According to the national youth survey in 2009, over 50 per cent of Chinese youth do not use any contraceptive method during their first sexual intercourse, while 21 per cent do not use contraception on a regular basis. This means one in five young people are engaged in unprotected sex and faces the risk of unintended pregnancy possibly leading to abortion.

“Comprehensive sexuality education is a life-long process of acquiring information and forming attitudes, beliefs & values about identity, relationships and intimacy.  It embraces a holistic vision of sexuality and sexual behavior, which goes beyond a focus on prevention of pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections,” said Dr. Babatunde Ahonsi, UNFPA Representative for China at the keynote speech of the Forum.

“Delivering high-quality comprehensive sexuality education requires a sustainable supporting system. Educators are of great importance in educating the young people about sexuality,” added Wang Yue, Vice President of China Sexology Association.

In 2011, the Sichuan Sexuality Education Base was established in the Chengdu University Teachers College. Over the past seven years, the Base has provided sexuality education trainings to hundreds of teachers and parents, and created sexuality education as a minor course in Chengdu University. In 2017, the Base developed the teachers’ handbook for sexuality education, with support from UNFPA.

In order to establish a sexuality education framework in China, currently, UNFPA is working with UNESCO and other partners to develop localized national technical guidelines on comprehensive sexuality education. It will offer an evidence-based standard for sexuality education programmes in China.