Adolescents’ sexual and reproductive health education: perspectives from secondary school teachers in Northern Nigeria

Nkechi W. Emenike, Health and Gender, ASCANE Consults, Abuja, Nigeria
Franklin I. Onukwugha, Institute for Clinical and Applied Health Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, UK
Ahmed Sarki, Aga Khan University
Lesley Smith, Institute for Clincal and Applied Health Research, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Hull, Hull, UK


Lack of sexual and reproductive health (SRH) education contributes to poor SRH outcomes for adolescents and young people in Sub-Saharan Africa. School-based comprehensive SRH education programmes in low- and middle-income countries aim to advance gender equality and human rights and reduce risky sexual behaviours in adolescents. However, the implementation of these programmes in Northern Nigeria is opposed by community and religious institutions because of mistrust of health interventions perceived as being framed on Western ideologies. This study explored perceptions of such programmes among secondary school staff in Northern Nigeria. We focused on knowledge and beliefs about comprehensive SRH education programmes, and views about barriers to delivery and ways to support their inclusion in schools. Sixteen semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with teachers and head teachers. Participants were aged 33–54 years and came from four public secondary schools in two states (Kano and Jigawa). Findings showed conflicting gender-based perspectives on the importance of comprehensive SRH education in schools. Barriers to delivery included lack of adequate skills and knowledge, beliefs/cultural norms and wider societal barriers. Involving traditional and religious leaders and schools in the design of tailored approaches could strengthen future delivery.