The Our Rights, Our Lives, Our Future (O3) programme was implemented by UNESCO in partnership with Ministries of Education and other organisations in 33 African countries between 2018 and June 2023. Being the largest in-school comprehensive sexuality education (CSE) programme in Africa, O3 focused on 1) securing and sustaining strong political commitment and support for adolescents and young people’s (AYP) access to CSE and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR); 2) supporting the delivery of accurate, rights-based and good quality CSE; 3) ensuring that schools and community environments are safer, healthier and inclusive for all AYP; as well as 4) strengthening the evidence base on CSE and safer school environments.
UNESCO commissioned KIT Royal Tropical Institute and its research partners to assess the programme’s successes, learnings and best practices to inform the development and design of the next phase of the programme. The final evaluation was conducted between August 2022 and January 2023 and was guided by an evaluation framework looking at the effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability of the programme. The evaluation entailed secondary data analysis of large-scale household surveys, a document review covering the 33 countries, primary data collection including ten qualitative country case studies in Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Eswatini, Gabon, Malawi, Nigeria, Uganda and Zambia; as well as key informant interviews at the global and regional levels.
The findings show that the O3 programme has facilitated an important infrastructure for keeping CSE on the political agenda, despite increased resistance on the continent. It has particularly strengthened the education system for CSE provision, while gains can be made from more community engagement. High numbers of AYP were reached through digital and school-based means, and attention to particularly vulnerable AYP has grown throughout the programme. The evaluation also found that the O3 programme has supported a great number of research studies, which could be used even more in advocacy efforts. The complementarity of the four O3 programme areas contributed to the programme’s effectiveness in enhancing AYP’s access to CSE and SRH services in sub-Saharan Africa, and a combination of the regional and country programmes contributed to its efficiency. While there is evidence on sustained outcomes in various countries, it needs to be acknowledged that the CSE and AYP’s SRHR agendas require continuous support.