• HIV prevalence among 15-19 years-old is 4.7 percent (3.6 percent of males and 5.7 percent of females).
In Zambia, HIV prevalence among people aged 15-49 is 14.3 percent. Among 15- to 19-year-olds, infection rates are 3.6 percent for girls and 5.7 percent for boys. While this age group is highly at risk of acquiring HIV, they also hold the greatest hope of reversing the trend if they are equipped with the right information, skills, and services.
A number of reasons may be contributing to the low knowledge levels in Zambia, including:
• Coverage: the 2009 UNGASS report reported that only 60 percent of schools were offering life skills;
For years, the Ministry of Education (MoE) has recognized the role that life skills can play in promoting healthy lifestyles among learners. As early as 1996, ministry policy of “Educating Our Future” noted that the provision of life skills education is one way of halting the further spread of HIV among school going children, clearly stating that “the development of life skills and in areas of sexuality and personal relationships, will serve as channel for messages about HIV and AIDS." Subsequently, MoE has integrated life skills education in curriculum and syllabi.
Research is clear that carefully designed and evaluated school-based HIV prevention programmes can increase knowledge, promote safer sexual behavior, and reduce stigma. In Zambia, though significant progress has been made to incorporate HIV prevention education into the formal school curriculum, HIV and AIDS knowledge levels remain at an unsatisfactory level: 41 and 38 per cent for boys and girls aged 15 to 24, respectively, against an UNGASS target of 95 percent by 2010. A recent Southern and Eastern Africa Consortium for Monitoring Educational Quality study found even lower HIV and AIDS knowledge levels among grade sixth grade learners (average age 13 ½ years): 35.9 percent for boys and 33.6 percent for girls. Current research is clear that carefully designed and evaluated school-based HIV prevention programmes can increase knowledge, promote safer sexual behavior, and reduce stigma. In Zambia, more rigorous research is needed to determine the coverage, impact, and gaps of life skills programs for in- and out-of-school children.
In partnership with the Government of the Republic of Zambia (GRZ) and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), life skills education focuses on four strategic priority areas:
Life Skills Materials Development, Standard Setting and Coordination:
Additionally some teachers did not fully understand the key expected outcomes for life skills. It was further observed that life skills providers such as NGOs were using different modules due to the absence of a standardized life skills framework from MoE. In response, UNICEF in collaboration with UNESCO and UNFPA supported MoE in the development a life skills framework whose aim is to guide life skills provision in educational institutions and non-formal settings. The life skills framework, though developed in line with the existing curriculum, has provided additional information on age appropriate and gender sensitive learning outcomes for all levels from early childhood development (ECD) to high school. This has also set standards for assessment for key outcomes at each level.
Supporting school based systematic implementation of HIV and AIDS programmes through the rollout of the MoE HIV and AIDS work place policy at the school level:
Supporting complimentary delivery of life skills to learners through innovative approaches by NGOs:
• Enhanced capacity of curriculum specialists in life skills. This has culminated in the development and printing of life skills materials for teachers and learners in grades 1 to 9.
UNICEF’s COUNTRY PROGRAMME 2011-2015
Expected Results in 2011-15 UNICEF Zambia Country Programme – HIV AIDS and Life Skills
Under the UNICEF country program 2011-2015, HIV prevention among learners and life Skills education will be a key focus area. UNICEF will continue support for building capacity of MoE to deliver effective life skills education to all learners. UNICEF will further support MoE to strengthen the content of the life skills being offered to include sexuality education. UNICEF will work in partnership with Ministry of Health to expand youth friendly health services so that the in- and out-of-school children and youths can have access to reproductive health services in a friendly environment.