Young couple Vietnam

What is comprehensive sexuality education

Young people are naturally curious about sex and sexuality. Rutgers asserts the right of young people to receive adequate education to make well-informed choices in relationships and their sexual lives. Comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) means providing information and guidance about the physical and emotional aspects of growing up and starting relationships.

What makes it comprehensive?

Formal, effective sex education can happen in or out of school, but it must always be based on fact. To be comprehensive it shouldn’t focus solely on sex and sexuality, but emphasise the importance of forming healthy relationships. Young people should gain self-esteem and understand how to protect their physical and emotional well-being. They should understand the consequences of having sex and the importance of safer sex. Young people should learn that they have sexual health rights.

Improving access

Rutgers recognises that many young people do not have access to this kind of sex education. We have developed tools and materials through different projects to make it easier to deliver good comprehensive sexuality education in different settings, including in countries where sexuality is a taboo subject.

The tools and materials cater for the needs of young people of different ages and with different abilities and backgrounds. They can be used in the home, school or other settings like youth groups and young offenders’ institutions. Above all they are clear and honest. The World Starts with Me is one of our most recent curriculums.


Ethiopian boys learning WSWM at pc

The World Starts With Me

Sometimes it is hard to find an adult who can deliver effective sex education. So Rutgers has created a computer-based curriculum in sexuality education that can be followed by 12 to 19 year olds with or without a teacher, improving their IT skills as they learn. The World Starts With Me resources are used in thirteen countries across Africa and Asia. This curriculum goes beyond sexuality and relationships, including lessons on gender equality and having goals for the future.

I learned a lot from The World Starts With Me, but most importantly I learned about puberty and body changes. I understand my body better and feel more relaxed and confident.

15 years old, Jimma, Ethiopia

The Netherlands

Rutgers is a leader in comprehensive sexuality education in the Netherlands, where sex education is now part of the compulsory curriculum. Our materials are used in primary and secondary schools across the country. We also address the needs of the pupils of special schools or in vocational education and vulnerable groups like migrants and refugees. And we work with qualified and trainee teachers. The video Dutch Lessons in Love explains how Dutch children and adolescents are being educated about sexuality in school. It also addresses how young people are being empowered to have safe and pleasant sex, only when they feel they are ready for it and no sooner than that. 

Read also

Emerging evidence, lessons & practice in comprehensive sexuality education: a global overview (UNESCO 2015)

About Rutgers


Follow us on Twitter
Logo postcode loterij

Annually Rutgers receives support from the Dutch Postcode Lottery and its participants