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Is it really necessary to teach? : Teachers’ perception toward implementation of sexual health education in Kazakhstani schools


Academic year: 2023

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This research aimed to identify educators' attitudes and perceptions towards the implementation of school-based sexual health education within the curriculum. The present study may have an impact on the realization of sexual health education in mainstream schools in Kazakhstan.


The aim of sexual health education in European countries is to promote knowledge about sexuality, health and gender issues (UNFPA, 2015). As research has stated, there are several reasons for the negative effects of sexual health education.

Literature Review Introduction

Introducing school-based sexual health education encourages teenagers to make mature decisions and be responsible for their future. The United States was the first country to implement sexual health education in the school curriculum (Huber, 2009). The given approach to teaching sexual health education was taken as a measure to solve the problem of teenage pregnancy.

The main disadvantage of this restrictive model of sexual health education is the biased way of delivering the content. Therefore, the TPB theory is applicable in sexual health education regarding a healthy lifestyle and safety. The implementation of sexual health education in Kazakhstan's secondary education is a highly controversial topic due to its sensitivity.

The realization of sexual health education is not yet considered as a solution to social problems related to sexual illiteracy among young people. The results of another study have shown that the biggest barrier to school-based sexual health education is cultural beliefs (Kasonde, 2013). According to the various literatures, teachers mostly support the implementation of school-based sexual health education.

In most cases, teachers have not received professional development training in delivering sexual health education.


Therefore, this research was designed as an exploratory qualitative research study in order to determine the nature of the problem. Moreover, qualitative research design enables theory development in case some inadequate theories do not properly capture the complexity of the investigated problem (Creswell, 2018). From the analysis of the literature from the various sources, it was understood that teachers often have the psychological barriers to school-based sexual education due to the lack of complete understanding of the concept of sexual health education (Mkumbo, 2012).

In addition, schools are located in both new and old neighborhoods of the city. The five different schools that were deliberately chosen were located in different neighborhoods of the city for the research. Most participants chose to be interviewed at their school during the school holidays.

From an ethical point of view, to ensure anonymity, all interview respondents were given pseudonyms, which were denoted as BT1, BT2, etc. With the permission of the participants, all data were recorded and reflective notes were taken during the interview process. which could be referred to during the analysis.


The manual thematic analysis of in-depth interview transcripts was completed by identifying common themes and meaningful quotes from respondents related to the implementation of sexual health education in Kazakhstan secondary school context. It was also noted that the general belief that teaching sexual health education can encourage young people to be sexually active was absent among participants in this research. However, there is a slight difference in teachers' responses about parents' attitudes towards the teaching of sexual health education at secondary schools between Russian- and Kazakh-speaking schools.

Therefore, parents from Russian-speaking schools do not have negative attitudes towards teaching sexual health education at secondary schools. Students' sexual health education questions were found to be raised in these classrooms. It should be mentioned that all respondents clearly highlighted the importance of sexual health education in students' lives.

However, when participants were asked about their opinion on implementing sexual health education as a single subject, five out of nine participants were against the idea. The general opinion among the interviewees was that sexual health education should start during puberty (10-13 years or 6-7th grade), since most children already have some knowledge about sex.

Table 1. Main themes from the analysis
Table 1. Main themes from the analysis

I think valeologiya should be implemented again as earlier, and the possible negative impacts of teen pregnancy and abortion should be explicitly explained

Therefore, I think it will be good if reproductive topics are moved to grades 6-7. Most of the responses felt that there should be a return to the topic of valeology, which is focused on health care. In response to the question: "Who is responsible for educating students about sexual health?" all participants in the study shared the same opinion.

According to the findings, all participants think that educating children about sexual health education is the responsibility of parents. As studies show (Kabatova, 2018), adults in traditional and conservative countries are reluctant to talk about issues related to sex due to its stigmatization in society. Therefore, respondents think that explaining sex-related topics should be the responsibility of parents and they should provide quality knowledge for a safe lifestyle for their children.

Only parents can explain these things, because teachers don't know what the atmosphere is like at home.

Parents should be responsible for their children’s future and they have to speak openly about sex issues

Furthermore, all participants stated that they have never considered that sexual health education should be taught in school as a way to reduce some of the current social problems such as teenage pregnancy. This means that the respondents believed that teaching about sexual health topics should be the parents' responsibility. It was noted that teachers have not considered or underestimated the impact of sexual health education on solving social problems and strengthening student behavior.

A recurring opinion among the interviewees was that due to the fast pace of today's society and the fact that both parents work outside the home, parents do not have time to devote enough time to their children. The common opinion among interviewees from Kazakh-speaking schools was that teaching sexual health education in school will be problematic due to the conservative nature of parents. They expressed the opinion that one of the possible reasons why sexual health education is not yet implemented in secondary schools in Kazakhstan is opposition from parents.

Respondents believed that Russian parents are very open to talking about sex-related topics with their children. Their opinion on why sexual health has not yet been implemented is that the issues related to sexual health education are underestimated and not given much importance.

They (the government) have other more important problems as the country's economy

There are some difficulties for me to explain explicitly about physiology development of humans since usually students start giggling

I noticed that some students are embarrassed to ask questions, especially students from Kazakh classes

All respondents to this question responded that they would like the opportunity to become better educated on this topic.

I think teachers have to get a course at a pedagogical university that covers child development psychology

Of course, now I am unable to deliver sexual health education at school since I am not a specialist in it. I cannot explain more than the biological aspect of anatomy since I have no

I do not think that I can teach this subject. I think young teachers who are more specialized are ready to teach it

Several reasons, such as unsupervised Internet searches and insufficient parental involvement in the education process, contribute to the wrong decisions of students about their sex lives. As the study showed, teachers are of the same opinion that education about sexual health is primarily a parental responsibility and not a school responsibility. However, they believe that most parents do not speak openly with their children, forcing them to look for information on the Internet.

The participants also all agree in their opinion about the necessity of a special qualification for teachers in sexual health education. The major barrier that they faced in delivering the topics around sexuality and reproduction is the local one. Taken together, these findings suggest that there is a link between teachers' perceptions of sexual health education due to Kazakh culture as well as their own lack of professional development.

There is a misconception about sexual health education due to the lack of professional skills and knowledge of what sexual health education should include. The culturally based psychological barrier for teachers in this context and a general lack of understanding of how providing a detailed and developed sexual health care program could help overcome some of the current social problems among Kazakhstani youth.


In addition, self-efficacy theory was applied to explain teachers' reluctance to teach sexual health education in Kazakhstan. In this study, all participants indicated that they were very supportive of including sexual health education in the school curriculum. It has been scrutinized that sexual health education in schools is mainly influenced by teachers' attitudes towards teaching it (Shegesha, 2015).

There is a dilemma in the implementation of sexual health education in Kazakhstan between modern social problems among adolescents and the traditional mindset of the population. One of the main issues of misconceptions about sexual health education among teachers is the lack of any understanding of sex-related topics due to the cultural values ​​of the society. A misunderstanding of sexual health education among school teachers was found in the present study.

Wight and Buston (2003) stated that special professional training increased and improved teachers' knowledge of sexual health education content. The socio-cultural values ​​are identified as the main barrier to the introduction of sexual health education at school in Kazakhstan.


Teachers demonstrate a very supportive attitude and positively accept the idea of ​​implementing sexual health education in schools. However, all participants refused to provide sexual health education at school, if it were to be implemented at all. The research found that the main obstacle to effective implementation of sexual health education in schools is related to culture.

It was also revealed that sexual health education can be challenged due to parents' negative attitudes towards it. Therefore, it can be assumed that teachers do not have a clear understanding of what the concept of sexual health education is in general. Sexual health education is not mandated in the school curriculum, and the teachers are therefore not trained or have special professional development.

The absence of additional professional training is the reason why teachers have misconceptions about sexual health education. Adolescent School-Based Sexual Health Education and Training: A Literature Review of Teaching and Learning Strategies.


You may keep the extra copy of this signed and dated consent form. Parental consent form and have it signed by at least one of his/her parent(s) or guardian(s).

Interview Schedule

I would like to ask some questions regarding the implementation of sexual health education to explore your attitudes and perceptions towards teaching sexual health education in schools. All data will be stored in a secure location that can only be accessed by me. Why do you think KZ faced the problem of increasing teenage pregnancy and abortion and sexually transmitted diseases.

Do you think that teaching sexual health education will improve the health problems associated with students' lack of information about sexual health?


Table 1. Main themes from the analysis
Table 2  Information – Participant Information

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