Cost analysis of school-based sexuality education programs in six countries

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Background

Policy-makers who are making decisions on sexuality education programs face important economic questions: what are the costs of developing sexuality education programs; and what are the costs of implementing and scaling them up? This study responds to these questions by assessing the costs of six school-based sexuality education programs (Nigeria, Kenya, Indonesia, India, Estonia and the Netherlands).

Methods

Cost analyses were carried out in schools that were fully implementing a SE program, as this best reflects the resources needed to run an effective program. The costs were analyzed from the program perspective, meaning that all costs borne by the governmental and (international) non-governmental organizations supporting the program were included. Cost analyses were based on financial records, interviews and school surveys.

We distinguished costs in three consecutive program phases: development, update and implementation. Recommendations on the most efficient program characteristics and scale-up pathways were drawn from results of three fully scaled up programs (Estonia, Nigeria and the Netherlands), scale-up scenarios of two pilot programs (Kenya and Indonesia), and an implementation plan (India), The costs of the programs were compared by converting cost per student reached in US dollars (US$) to international dollars (I$).

Results

Findings revealed a range of costs and coverage of sexuality education programs. Costs per student reached were; US$7 in Nigeria, US$13.50 in India, US$33 in Estonia and the Netherlands, US$50 in Kenya, and US$160 in Indonesia.

Conclusions

Intra-curricular sexuality education programs have, because of their compulsory nature, the most potential to be scaled up and are therefore most efficient. Extra-curricular sexuality education programs have lower potential to be scaled up and are therefore less efficient. In terms of class size and number of lessons, countries need to strike a balance between the quality (demanding smaller classes and many lessons) and the costs (demanding larger classes and fewer lessons). Advocacy was a significant cost component.

Health economist (PhD), Dr Jari Kempers

About the author

Dr Jari Kempers is a senior health economist (PhD) and consultant. He founded Qalys Health Economics in 2007. He helps healthcare policymakers and programme managers to make better plans and decisions by providing technical assistance and strategic advice on health economics and health financing topics.

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