Around the world many children, adolescents and young people grow up and become sexually active without access to quality, gender responsive information, education and services regarding their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) is a curriculum-based process of teaching and learning about the cognitive, emotional, physical and social aspects of sexuality. It aims to equip children and young people with knowledge, skills, attitudes and values that will empower them to: realise their health, wellbeing and dignity; develop respectful social and sexual relationships; consider how their choices affect their own wellbeing and that of others; and, understand and ensure the protection of their rights throughout their lives.
CSE can be provided in formal and non-formal education settings, but in order for children, adolescents and young people (CAY) to access it without judgement, a supportive home and community environment is critical. Therefore, working with parents and caregivers of children and adolescents on SRHR and CSE is an emerging priority area for Plan International.
Early adolescence is a key window of opportunity for strengthening knowledge, attitudes and behaviours, as very young adolescents are at the beginning of puberty and experiencing vigorous changes including physical, social and cognitive changes. When delivering CSE to very young adolescents, it is particularly important to engage parents and caregivers as they often have greater influence over what information and activities their children can access. Parents and caregivers should be supported with knowledge and skills to deal with tricky questions from their children, and activities should address common concerns about provision of CSE to young adolescents in order to foster a supportive environment.
Our approach to CSE
To support Plan International and partner staff, educators and implementers in formal and non-formal settings to deliver effective and quality CSE, we have developed a series of CSE standards and a Topics Table. These standards are based upon international evidence and good practice.1 They also uphold a set of principles, including a comprehensive, human rights-based, gender transformative, inclusive and sex-positive approach towards the sexuality, sexual development and (sexual) relationships of children, adolescents, and young people. The standards seek to ensure 1) quality in CSE programme content, 2) effective delivery of CSE, and 3) how to create an enabling environment for CSE and young people’s SRHR. The standards are accompanied by a Topics Table, outlining learning objectives per age group (0-4, 5-8, 9-12, 12-15, and 15-18+ years old).
To support implementation of the CSE standards and Topics Table, Plan International’s CSE Programme Model2 is under development. The draft goals of the Programme Model are to:
Strengthen children, adolescents and young people’s knowledge, attitudes and skills on SRHR, including body development, pregnancy, sexuality, relationships, harmful practices and other forms of GBV,
Support family and community engagement in children and young people’s sexuality education and education, and enable dialogues on SRHR for gender-transformative change,
Support delivery of CSE in schools and/or alternative learning spaces, including providing technical support to teachers and facilitators, and strengthening institutions, policies and legal frameworks.
Through the Programme Model, Plan International aims to connect work within several thematic areas (namely SRHR, Inclusive Quality Education, Early Childhood Development and Protection from Violence) to ensure age- and developmentally-responsive, and holistic approaches in our programme and influence work.
The overall aim of this consultancy is to strengthen our CSE Programme Model through developing tools and programme materials for delivering CSE to parents of children and adolescents (with focus on children and adolescents aged 9-15, aligned with our CSE Topics Table).
The materials will build on our CSE Standards and Topics Table, and contribute directly to the second goal of the Programme Model (work with family and communities), and indirectly to the first goal (young people’s knowledge, attitudes and skills).
The programme materials should strengthen the knowledge, attitudes and skills of parents of adolescents as it relates to the sexual and reproductive health and rights of their children, their ability to communicate effectively with them and model positive behaviours, and contribute to a supportive home environment where children, adolescents and young people feel confident and able to discuss topics concerning their bodies and relationships with their parents.
Outcomes and Deliverables
Key tasks and methodology: **
· An inception meeting with the SRHR Hub to discuss scope and focus of the consultancy
· Desk-based review of external and internal tools and programme materials (such as Plan International SRHR modules for parents in the Adolescents in Crisis Life Skills and Parenting Curriculums, and inter-generational modules in our Champions of Change curriculum)
· Interviews / consultations with staff about needs and challenges
· Develop a draft plan / content outline for the programme materials, to be agreed with the SRHR Hub before detailed write-up
· Write-up of tools and programme materials
· Hold meetings with, and collect feedback from a core reference group of SRHR advisors, the pilot Country Office, and other Plan International staff as needed throughout the process
· Final workplan for the assignment to be agreed by Plan International
· A guidance note for delivering CSE to parents of children and adolescents aged 9-15 (this will include design, implementation, and contextualisation guidance for activities)
· Curriculum / modules and methodology for sessions with parents (to be specified in consultation with Plan International teams – anticipating up to 6 sessions of one hour each with parents’ groups)
· Tools for monitoring and evaluation of the CSE with parents’ activities
· A workshop agenda and materials for training of staff and volunteers on how to use the programme materials in activities with parents
Upon completion, the materials will be piloted with parents in a selected Plan International Country Office (some support from the consultant to the pilot Country Office during implementation may be required as part of this consultancy). Materials may be subject to further adaptation by Plan International after the pilot as required.
Project timeline and management
It is anticipated that the assignment will run from June to November 2021, with a maximum of 20 working days, and it will be desk-based. The selected consultant must submit the final invoice by end of November (more details to be specified in consultancy agreement). The consultant will not be required to travel but will be expected to participate in calls and consult Plan International staff during the process. The consultants will be supervised by the SRHR Deployable Advisor with support from the SRHR Hub Lead.
Ethics and child protection
Throughout the process, compliance with Plan International’s Global Policy: Safeguarding Children and Young People and Plan’s MERL Standard and MERL Policy must be assured at all times.
In accordance with Plan’s MERL Standard and Plan’s MERL Policy, the research must ensure: appropriate, safe, non-discriminatory participation; a process of free and un-coerced consent and withdrawal; confidentiality and anonymity of participants.
The consultants are required to provide a statement within their proposal on how they will ensure ethics and child protection in the research process. Ethical approval is required before this research commences. This is anticipated to be achieved through the internal Plan International Ethics Review Team and is expected to take up to four weeks.
The successful consultant or team of consultants must have the following qualifications:
· Strong technical knowledge and practical field experience of adolescent SRHR, particularly in relation to evidence and expertise on Comprehensive Sexuality Education and parenting approaches.
· A strong understanding of children and young people´s evolving capacities and children´s rights, including key child protection considerations
· Experience of working with rights-based and gender-transformative programmes (incl. promoting LGBTIQ+ and disability inclusion) at all stages of the programme delivery cycle at country/field office level
· Strong research and analytical skills
· Ability to apply insights and evidence into practical, contextualised programmatic interventions
· Excellent writing and communication skills
· Experience in programme design and developing theory of change, programme tools, manuals and guidance
· Highly collaborative, flexible and self-starter
· Ability to meet tight deadlines
· Fluency in English required (additional skills preferred, especially Spanish and French)
· Ideally, some familiarity with Plan International’s existing approaches and guidance for SRHR programming.