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Barriers to sexual and reproductive education among in-school adolescents in Zomba and Mangochi districts, Malawi

Likupe, Gloria; Chintsanya, Jesman; Magadi, Monica; Munthali, Alister; Makwemba, Medison


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Dr Gloria Likupe
Lecturer and Researcher in Healthcare/ Chairperson of School Athena Swan group

Jesman Chintsanya

Monica Magadi

Alister Munthali

Medison Makwemba


Teenage pregnancy and child marriage continue to rise in Malawi despite the introduction of compulsory Life Skills education in primary schools in 2002. A qualitative approach, employing focus group discussions with participants was used to explore the barriers faced by teachers in delivering sexual and reproductive health education in primary schools in southern districts of Malawi. Pupils, teachers and parents from a total of 10 primary schools, seven in Mangochi and three in Zomba, were invited to participate in focus group discussions on barriers to sexual and reproductive health education. The teaching experience of teachers ranged from one to six years. Pupils were aged between 10 to 19 years while parents had to have a child learning sexual and reproductive health at school to participate. Thematic analysis revealed several barriers to delivering sexual and reproductive health education: over-emphasis on abstinence, an unconducive learning environment, existence of sexual practices linked to becoming of age rites, peer pressure, lack of sexual and reproductive health reinforcement by parents, and inadequate training for teachers. Policymakers and curriculum developers/implementers should create an approach which is inclusive of all stakeholders and able to provide young people with comprehensive sexuality education that is rights based and effective.


Likupe, G., Chintsanya, J., Magadi, M., Munthali, A., & Makwemba, M. (2021). Barriers to sexual and reproductive education among in-school adolescents in Zomba and Mangochi districts, Malawi. Sex Education, 21(4), 450-462.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Sep 5, 2020
Online Publication Date Sep 13, 2020
Publication Date Jan 1, 2021
Deposit Date Aug 12, 2021
Journal Sex Education
Print ISSN 1468-1811
Electronic ISSN 1472-0825
Publisher Routledge
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 21
Issue 4
Pages 450-462
Keywords Sexual and reproductive health; Teenage pregnancy; Comprehensive sexuality education; Child marriage; Malawi
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