WHO Regional Office for Europe and BZgA
BZgA has been a WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for the WHO European Region since 2003, with a special focus on sexuality education. Based on this remit, the organisation has been active in developing concepts, elaborating and disseminating nationally uniform measures for comprehensive sexuality education, as well as organising seminars for knowledge transfer.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Sexual and Reproductive Health
Since its designation in 2008 the BZgA has been a WHO Collaborating Centre (WHO CC) for sexual and reproductive health, with a thematic focus on the WHO European Region. This region covers 53 countries in Europe, from Ireland to Uzbekistan. A key aspect of collaboration is the establishment of a European expert group within the WHO CC which manages activities at national and regional levels.
Through its collaboration with WHO CCs, the BZgA is able to expand its international network and increase its visibility. It also enables the BZgA to gain access to top centres worldwide and participate in global networks for research and exchange of experience. This increases the relevance of its work for the WHO European Programme of Work and helps to achieve sustainable impact. It is important to note that the statutory requirements for WHO collaborating centres must be fulfilled in order to guarantee successful collaboration. These are defined in the guidelines for the management of WHO collaborating centres at the global, intercountry, regional and interregional level.
Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe
Across the countries of the WHO European Region, important steps have been taken towards high-quality holistic sexual education in schools. However, it still differs widely between and within countries. The WHO CC at BZgA has therefore developed a framework document entitled “Standards for Sexuality Education in Europe” (WHO/BZgA, 2010).
It addresses policy makers, educational institutions and health services. The main aim of the document is to highlight common factors that facilitate and hinder the provision of comprehensive sexuality education.
The underlying assumption is that young people have the right to comprehensive sexual and reproductive health information, education and support to be active citizens and have pleasure, confidence and a sense of responsibility in their life. It is therefore crucial that they are aware of the risks and possibilities of their behaviour and are able to make responsible choices. This requires a holistic approach to sexual education, which is not only focused on teaching about facts, but also on the communication of competencies.
Policy Briefs on Sexuality Education
The BZgA has been a WHO Collaborating Centre since 2003 and devotes much of its work to developing framework documents for comprehensive sexuality education that can be applied in the different countries of the European Region. These are supplemented by research and by organisation of seminars and conferences for knowledge transfer.
Comprehensive sexuality education is a curriculum-based process that equips children and adolescents with the knowledge, skills, attitudes and values they need to realise their health and well-being and develop respectful social and sexual relationships. This is especially important as young people increasingly have access to sexually explicit information through the media and other sources. It is also known that such education has a positive impact on the mental and physical health of young people, promotes behavioural change and contributes to reducing sexually transmitted infections. In 2008 a process was started to recommend standards for sexuality education on a European level, but no specific document had been produced until 2016.