Comprehensive Sex Education in Ghana: A critical cultural examination of challenges to contemporary CSE advocacy and implementation


In November 2018 the United Nations Population Foundation (UNFPA) and Ghana Education Service released a document titled “Guidelines for Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Ghana” to the National Council for Curriculum and Assessment in Ghana’s capital, Accra. The development of these CSE guidelines stems from an earlier adolescent reproductive health policy and decades of work by various sex education and reproductive health advocacy organizations in Ghana including the Planned Parenthood Association of Ghana (PPAG), Marie Stopes and other local NGOs like the Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights (ARHR), Youth Harvest, and Curious Minds. Past research indicates both a need for CSE in Ghana as well as challenges to implementing CSE. Since the new guidelines were released, it has received renewed push back from political and religious commentators. The goal of this study is to examine how Ghana’s latest sexual health guidelines will be implemented and the prevailing cultural challenges to its implementation by utilizing critical health communication and postcolonial feminist theory (Dutta, 2008; Mohanty, 2003).

Expanding on past research in Ghana, the study employs the perspective of local advocates for adolescent sexual health and education to gain contemporary insight on the issue. Qualitative semi-structured in-depth interviews were conducted with community health advocates and health workers in Accra, Ghana in the summer of 2019, including representatives from the organizations that both helped establish the new guidelines and are currently participating in guiding its implementation. Analysis from the interviews identifies several key cultural restraints that CSE advocates are facing in implementing CSE programs to Ghanaian adolescents in both in-school and out-of-school settings including existing restrictions around the topic of contraception, lack of education programs to key stakeholders, especially related to the guideline’s goal of girls empowerment, and concerns around political support to implement CSE programs. Critical identification of these challenges and constraints in Ghana may help assist sexual health advocates in their continued efforts to implement CSE and other health advocates worldwide. The study’s critical approach to analyze sexual health education issues and intentional engagement with active community health advocates also contributes to a wider recognition of essential culture-centered approaches to understanding health disparities and effective health advocacy communication.


Dutta, M. J. (2008). Communicating health.Cambridge, UK: Polity Press.

Mohanty, C. (2003). Feminism without borders: Decolonizing theory, practicing solidarity. Durham; London: Duke University Press.