A one day symposium was held on the 5th November 2003 at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Iveagh House, Dublin, hosted by Development Cooperation Ireland (DCI), in cooperation with the UNAIDS Inter Agency Task Team on Education. The symposium was attended by representatives from UN agencies, Development Cooperation Ireland, civil society organisations from Ireland and from overseas, from an African Ministry of Education, and from academia. The main objectives of the symposium were: ·To increase awareness of the role of education in prevention and mitigation of HIV/AIDS with particular reference to Africa ; To consider the adequacy of the response within education to HIV/AIDS; To provide an opportunity for the various stakeholders to dialogue on the promotion of education as an effective tool in the fight against HIV/AIDS at international, regional, national and sub-national levels ; To share examples of best practice in the education sector's response to HIV/AIDS. Key themes emerging from the symposium were: Ensuring access and keeping children in school is one of the most effective strategies in the fight against HIV/AIDS; Action must take place at the level of the school and the classroom ; The emphasis must be on the quality of teaching and learning; Capacity building for staff of Ministries of Education is a priority; The important role of teacher education in the response to HIV/AIDS; The reality of the target group has to be the starting point for any intervention; Prevention has priority but HIV/AIDS education also needs to address other challenges such as care and support; While education has a very important role to play in the fight against HIV/AIDS, it is only one element of what needs to be a comprehensive response ; The crucial role of leadership and political will in the response to HIV/AIDS; The need for more critical and informed discussion and dialogue to take place at country level.
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