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Learning about avian influenza through theatre and play

Young actors perform puppet theatre on avian influenza for younger children living in Signagi, East Georgia. 17 July, 2007.
© UNICEF/Geo- 2007/Klimchuk
Young actors perform puppet theatre on avian influenza for younger children living in Signagi, East Georgia. 17 July, 2007.

60 theatre performances for 8 000 children living in high-risk areas being held throughout Georgia
 
TBILISI, Georgia, 20 July 2007 – Theatrical lessons on avian influenza for children and youth are being organized in July and August in eight high risk areas of Georgia. The main purpose of the edutainment theater performances is to inform children and young people living in high-risk areas how to prevent the spread of the disease. The project is carried out by the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Women’s Association ‘Consent’ and the NGO ‘Atinati’ with the support of UNICEF Georgia.

40 puppet theatre performances for about 4,000 children and 20 Forum theatre performances for 2,000 young people are being held within the project. Children have been involved in development of the screenplays for puppet and forum theatres. Children are the main actors and participants of the performances as well.

“There is an increase in interest from children to learn more about avian influenza and they are very motivated to learn through theatre and play,” says Nana Gogokhia, coordinator of the project, from NGO “Consent”. “The performances are interactive by nature and children in the audience become involved through analyzing the behaviour of main heroes. They are finding correct answers easily and learning by having fun. This method is very efficient”. 

Young children and their parents attending the puppet theatre performance on avian influenza, Signagi, East Georgia. 17 July, 2007.
© UNICEF/Geo- 2007/Klimchuk
Young children and their parents attending the puppet theatre performance on avian influenza, Signagi, East Georgia. 17 July, 2007.

“I like the performance,” says Archil Gurgenidze, 6, from the village Nukriani, East Georgia. “I know now that bird flu is dangerous. I have a lot of chickens in my village and I will wash hands after touching them. I’ll wash my hands well before having meal as well.”

“Vako (the main hero) is good. He did what his mum told him and washed his hands. I will always wash my hands as well,” says Vaso Erkomaishvili, 5, from the same village Nukriani.

School calendars and bookmarks with messages on avian influenza prevention have been printed and distributed to children during the performances. A special issue of the children’s magazine “White Crane” containing information on avian influenza, stories and pictures, special quizzes and question and answer section on special preventive measures has also been produced.

“UNICEF highly promotes edutainment methods of teaching as we believe that children learn better through play and entertainment,” says UNICEF Child Protection Officer, Kendra Gregson. “I hope that the combination of formal and non-formal education methods will be an effective tool in teaching children about avian influenza prevention.”

The UNICEF-conducted “Knowledge, Attitude and Practice” study revealed that the level of knowledge of children on personal hygiene norms are extremely low in Georgia. According to the study, only 5.5 per cent of children of age 6-11 wash their hands after touching poultry and children age 12 to 16 years, 9 per cent.

Teaching avian influenza through theatrical lessons is just one part of a campaign aimed at increasing the knowledge of children.

In March, a two-day school event “What we have to know to prevent avian influenza” was organized in schools of Georgia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science and the National Curriculum and Assessment Centre. All schools received educational packages on avian influenza consisting of special instructions and informational booklets for teachers, scenarios of the lessons for lower, middle and upper grade students; school calendars and information posters. During these lessons children drew some pictures on avian influenza that were displayed at a special exhibition. 
 

About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in 155 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.

For further information, please contact:

Maya Kurtsikidze, Communications Officer, UNICEF Georgia
Tel: (995 32) 23 23 88, 25 11 30
Email: mkurtsikidze@unicef.org  

 

 

 

 

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