A cluster workshop on building bridges between the school and the community: workshop report

Conference Reports
19 p.

The debate of delivering HIV and AIDS education within schools is a sensitive topic that often elicits strong feelings from parents, teachers and school administrators. Shrouded in misconceptions that teaching HIV and AIDS education promotes premature sexual debut, many schools shy away from covering HIV and AIDS lessons except for in the context of biological health or natural science class. Although it is often found that parents wish to have their children educated in these topics, the discussion of sex and sexuality proves to be difficult, thus they leave it to the school. The result is that children who are enrolled in school miss out on this crucial dialogue both in the classroom and in their homes. It is commonly found that schools and communities play very separate roles in delivering HIV and AIDS education, whereby their efforts would be maximized if they integrated their approaches and strengthened their link. The School has an important role in not only educating children but also parents and the community on HIV and AIDS issues. Schools can reach out to out of school youths and can be a referral centre for various services required by the community such as Voluntary Counselling and Testing (VCT) or Family counselling. Parent Teacher Associations have potential to invigorate HIV and AIDS Education and Teachers Unions and Associations have the potential to promote these linkages through supporting teachers to address issues on HIV and AIDS stigma and discrimination and advocating for effective HIV and AIDS policies in schools. In an effort to document the relationship between schools and communities in the context of HIV and AIDS education a research was conducted by UNESCO Harare cluster countries between August and December 2005. This report summarizes the proceedings of the workshop held at Rainbow Mecure Hotel Victoria Falls from the 3rd-5th of May 2006 to review the research findings from the cluster countries. The participants were representatives from the Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe National Commissions for UNESCO, Ministry of Education Zambia, civil society and UNESCO.

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