Explore4Action is a pioneering research programme running from 2018 to 2021, that seeks to reveal the role of sexuality education in shaping gender norms and equality. It explores the development of healthy sexuality, including the importance of related health issues for young people. These key insights will be used to make the case for better services and health education. They will also be part of the world-wide, longitudinal Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS).

Positive and healthy transition from childhood to adulthood

In collaboration with the Johns Hopkins University, Karolinska Institute, the Centre for Reproductive Health of Gadjah Mada University Yogyakarta, and PBKI (Indonesia Planned Parenthood Association), Rutgers investigates what role sexuality education can play in empowering and supporting adolescents to make a positive and healthy transition from childhood to adulthood. And what is needed to go from building competencies to empowered action so that adolescents become competent users of contraception in the future.

Global Early Adolescent Study

As part of Explore4Action, Indonesia will join the Global Early Adolescent Study (GEAS), an international study exploring the social processes, in particular gender norms, shape young people's health. Responses to the GEAS survey will be gathered from 4000 students in public schools in the three research sites: Semarang (Central Java), Bandar Lampung (Lampung) and Denpasar (Bali).

Respondents will complete the survey three times over four years, enabling researchers to understand how perceptions of gender norms change over time and their predictive effect on a range of behaviours and outcomes including mental health, experiences of violence, healthy sexuality, sexual health and education. The GEAS survey will be carried out in schools using the SETARA comprehensive sexuality education programme, as well as in schools not using this curriculum, allowing researchers to assess the impacts of SETARA in the short and medium term.

Putting young people at the forefront of our research

Rutgers believes young people are key in understanding what it is like to grow up as a boy or a girl in Indonesia, and the insecurities, concerns and problems they face. Explore4Action will therefore train and engage young people as co-researchers in qualitative, participatory research – to reduce barriers to talk about sensitive or taboo issues, and get as close as possible to adolescents and young people’s real experiences and perspectives. The qualitative research explores how adolescents and young people deal with mixed messages and expectations around gender and sexuality and how that influences their behaviour and sexual health needs.

Implementation research

Rutgers’ previous experience in implementing comprehensive sexuality education has demonstrated that the effectiveness of CSE is to a large extent influenced by the way in which it is implemented. Within Explore4Action we will therefore undertake implementation research across the three study sites, investigating the critical factors of the intervention and the barriers and facilitators for its effective and sustainable implementation. Findings will be used to explain the GEAS results about the impact of SETARA and to inform the development of future sexual and reproductive health interventions for adolescents in Indonesia and beyond.

Joint initiative

Explore4Action is a joint initiative of Rutgers, the John Hopkins School for Public Health, the Karolinska Institutet, Universitas Gadjah Mada (UGM) and local branches of the Indonesian Family Planning Association (PKBI), with generous support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

Further reading

Comprehensive Sexuality Eduction: theory and practice


Young People