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Learning about avian influenza through theatre and play

TBILISI, Georgia, 25 July 2007 – Drama lessons in Georgia this summer will not only entertain, but inform children and young people about the risks of avian influenza. ‘Edutainment’ performances in eight areas seen as ‘high risk’ will demonstrate how to prevent the spread of the disease. The project is led by the Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Women’s Association ‘Consent’ and the NGO ‘Atinati’ with the support of UNICEF Georgia.

The project will feature 40 puppet shows for about 4,000 children and 20 theatre performances for 2,000 young people. Children are not only the audience – they have helped to develop the scripts and are also performing.

“There is growing 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 the NGO “Consent”. “The performances are interactive by nature and the children in the audience become involved through discussing and analyzing the behaviour of the heroes. The children are finding correct answers easily and learning by having fun as well.” 

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

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 promotes edutainment as a teaching method because 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.”

A recent survey by UNICEF in Georgia found low levels of knowledge among children about the importance of personal hygiene when handling poultry. According to the study, only 5.5 per cent of children of aged 6 to 11 wash their hands after touching poultry, rising to only 9 per cent among children aged 12 to 16.

Educating children about avian influenza through theatre is just one part of a campaign to boost their knowledge.

In March, a two-day school event “What we have to know to prevent avian influenza” was organized in schools in collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Science and the National Curriculum and Assessment Centre. All schools received educational packages on avian influenza, including special instructions and booklets for teachers, lesson plans; school calendars and posters. Many pupils painted pictures about avian influenza during these lessons that were later displayed at a special exhibition. 


UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 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, Fax: (995 32) 25 12 36
e-mail: mkurtsikidze@unicef.org, mob: (995 99) 53 30 71




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