HIV/AIDS education to be taught in schools
--- September likely starting time
Guyana Chronicle
March 17, 2004

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THE Ministry of Education, concerned over the rapid spread of HIV/AIDS in the 15-19 age group, is moving to fast-track plans for the teaching of HIV/AIDS education in schools.
With the Guyana Teachers' Union already conducting training for teachers, and other assistance received from UNICEF and CARICOM, the Ministry is looking to a September, 2004 start of the HIV/AIDS teaching programme.

This is according to Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education, Ganga Persaud as he delivered his remarks at the launching of the HIV/AIDS "Me to You: Reach One - Save One" Campaign held at the National Cultural Centre yesterday.

Persaud commended the Behaviour Change and Stigma and Discrimination reduction initiative being implemented by the Ministry of Health, in collaboration with USAID and Population Services International (PSI), and agreed that there was an urgent need for the Ministry of Education to address this problem in schools.

The Permanent Secretary noted that one of the major concerns of the Ministry of Education is the rate at which HIV/AIDS is spreading in the 15-19 years age group

He disclosed that his Ministry is working to ensure that every child receives access to quality basic education, and to promote universal secondary education. But he viewed with concern, the fact that a number of youths are being cut down early in life by HIV/AIDS. He reasoned that, if teachers and parents of these youth are also cut down early in life due to this disease, then all their initiatives would be in vain.

Persaud said that the Ministry of Education is currently initiating two approaches in the fight against HIV/AIDS, and these have already been developed and implemented: The Life Skills based Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) Curriculum for primary school students, and those of forms One to Three of the Secondary School system

He also acknowledged assistance and interventions from a number of non-governmental organizations for teachers and students on issues related to HIV/AIDS, but feels the Ministry of Education should do more to adequately make use of the knowledge and skills gained from these interventions.

Accordingly, the Ministry of Education will seek to identify and coordinate the role for these non-governmental organizations within the school system.

So far, the Ministry of Education has established an intra-Ministry Committee. with Minister of Education, Dr. Henry Jeffrey as Chairman, and Permanent Secretary Ganga Persaaud as Vice Chairman.

Persaud pledged the support of his Ministry for the initiative, adding that, in any move to address the HIV/AIDS situation the traditional educational approach alone will not be effective.

"I feel very strongly that in combating HIV and AIDS we need to develop strategies that are based on thinking that is outside of the traditional education strategies," he affirmed.