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Half a million children to benefit from teachers’ Lifeskills training project

HARARE, 27 August 2007 - Almost 500,000 students will benefit as 1500 primary and secondary school teachers this week begin a HIV and AIDS Lifeskills in-service training currently underway.

The training will offer teachers new and practical ways to:
* teach Lifeskills for HIV prevention
* understand and address the gender dimensions of HIV
* prevent and combat sexual gender based violence
* and the development and provision of psychosocial counseling

In doing so it will assist the teachers develop skills to share HIV Lifeskills with children so that they can protect themselves from infection and continue Zimbabwe’s successes in reducing the national HIV rate.

UNICEF has given nearly $500,000 for the training.

In 2005 Zimbabwe became the first country in Southern Africa to record a decline in HIV sero-prevalence. Zimbabwe’s adult HIV rate has fallen to approximately 20 per cent today.

According to UNAIDS, the fall can be attributed to: delayed sexual debut for young people, faithfulness between sexual partners, and increases in condom use.

“This is a remarkable achievement,” said UNICEF’s Representative in Zimbabwe, Dr. Festo Kavishe. “However the country still has one of the highest HIV prevalence rates in the world and we must continue to reach young Zimbabweans with clear and relevant information. That’s what this training will do.”

The training will be conducted by the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture, UNICEF, the Ministry of Higher and Tertiary Education and  VVOB-ZimPATH.  Set to run nationwide from today to the 31 of August, the HIV, Lifeskills, gender and counseling training will also provide lifeskills training packs for the teachers themselves. This will assist teachers in understanding and dealing with their own vulnerability to HIV and looks at issues of prevention, care and support, and anti-retrovirals.  

UNICEF has partnered with the Ministry of Education, Sport and Culture since 1992 to provide Lifeskills education in schools. This ensures that children have the necessary knowledge and skills to act responsibly and to survive an era of HIV. Although the training will accommodate the Lifeskills needs of all school going children, special attention is paid to equipping teachers to deal with the needs of orphans and children who have been abused.

The training follows successful efforts in 2006, where 1,200 teachers from 18 districts were trained. This year’s training is being held at seven teachers’ training colleges in Harare, Masvingo, Mutare, Mutoko and Bulawayo. 

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:

James Elder , UNICEF- Zimbabwe Chief of Communications: Tel + 703941/2; Cell: 263-912-276 120 , Email: jelder@unicef.org




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