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HIV/AIDS campaign in Angolan schools

Ministry of Education and UNICEF created a partnership to increase the level of HIV/AIDS knowledge and awareness among 590,000 children and youth.

LUANDA, 5 September 2005 – In its daily column “Falou & Disse” (Spoke and Said), the 13th August 2005 edition of Jornal de Angola National newspaper featured responses of two students among eight interviewed about the importance of sex education.

Young Istiven Manuel agreed that everybody must be better informed to avoid the multiple complications a person can encounter when they become sexually active.

“Teenagers make a lot of mistakes because they are not educated about sexuality,” said another student, Caria de Oliveira. “Few parents talk to their children about this matter,”

Angolan students´ expectations can be met. Today, the Angolan Minister of Education, Antonio Burity da Silva launched for the first time in Angola and globally a nationwide campaign about HIV/AIDS that will engage all of the 590,000 secondary school students ages 9-18 all over the country. The campaign is being implemented  by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF in partnership with the Ministry of Health, UNAIDS, provincial Governments, NGOs and other actors involved in HIV/AIDS interventions. The main objective is to increase the level of knowledge and awareness among children and youth so that they can make informed choices about their own attitudes and behaviors.

“The theme of this campaign is very important and the school is the right place to discuss it, as other places, in an effective way. To defend life is not only a right, but a duty. So learning about AIDS is also a right and a duty of each and every person,” the Minister told the youngsters gathered in the School 926 “Comandante Loy” in Luanda.

Under the theme “I defend life learning about AIDS”, the campaign includes educational activities in secondary school classrooms with teachers using a Gender and Sexuality, Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs) and HIV/AIDS curriculum as part of a participatory course that will engage boys and girls for two weeks in learning through reading, writing, reflection and discussion. 1.2 million educational manuals titled “What you always wanted to know and you were embarassed to ask” were distributed to students to use and keep.

“This HIV/AIDS sensitization campaign in schools offers an opportunity for 10 to 18 years old students starting to dialogue and emphasize the theme of HIV/AIDS, exchange information, to improve preventive attitudes based on a precise information and a strong self-esteem, according to UNICEF approach to HIV/AIDS,” Mario Ferrari, UNICEF Angola Representative noted.

Students will also form HIV/AIDS clubs that will carry on educational activities both in and outside of the schools. Youth involved will transmit information about HIV/AIDS through youth-managed radio programs and in collaborative design of posters for school walls.

At the conclusion of classroom activities, students will prepare HIV-theme theatre pieces which will be performed at school level and then will proceed to competitive performances at municipal, provincial and national levels. The theater contests will culminate in a festival in Luanda at which winning skits from each province will compete and win prizes. The festival will include high-profile personalities who will help to mobilize countrywide concern about the threat of HIV/AIDS in Angola.

“The implementation of this campaign, with a very simple strategy based on the interaction between teachers and students, of students among themselves and with their communities, using theatre and social communication, is just the starting of a process that is expected to continue in the next school years,” Ferrari added.

The 2005 campaign aims to reach 590,000 secondary level school children, as well as millions of other children, youth and the population at large to learn about the disease and the ways to avoid transmission. Involved are approximately 9,500 teachers working in 469 middle schools and 350 early secondary schools located in all 18 provinces of Angola.

The HIV epidemic threatens the entire population of Angola and youth are the most vulnerable as a point of entry for transmission of the virus. 43% of Angolan young people have had sex by the age of 15 and nearly 70% of sexual activity amongst young people is unprotected, says a 2003 Survey of Knowledge, Attitudes and Practices among urban youth in Angola, conducted by Population Services International, with technical and financial assistance from UNICEF and USAID.

UNICEF technical and funding support for this campaign is possible due to contributions from the Governments of  UK, Sweden, Italy, Norway, the Swiss Development Fund and Japan FujiTV.

For further information please contact:
José Luís Mendonça, UNICEF Information Officer 
912 653 013, jlmendonca@unicef.org




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