|School Health Education to Prevent AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) : Handbook for Curriculum Planners (UNESCO - WHO, 1994, 88 p.)|
|A. Designing the programme|
A peer leader is a student who is selected for his/her leadership potential in helping in the education process. He/she is trained to help other students learn through demonstrations, listening, role playing, encouraging, giving feedback and supporting healthy decisions and behaviours. Note that in the Teachers Guide, ways to use peer leaders are explained only for some activities. However, curriculum planners and teachers should bear in mind that peer leaders may be used for almost any of the activities - whenever me teacher feels this would be useful and appropriate.
Many successful programmes have involved peer leaders. Studies have shown that:
· Young people are likely to imitate or model well-liked or respected peers
· Young people are more likely to listen to what respected peers say
· Peer leaders who exhibit healthy, responsible behaviours can influence in a positive way the behaviour of other peers
· Peer leaders can support, encourage and help their peers both inside and outside the classroom
· They can help the teacher in the classroom
· They can help manage and solve problems when students are working in small groups, particularly when the class size is large.
Peer leader training
Peer leaders need to be trained and supported in the many roles and responsibilities they will be expected to fulfill in the programme on HIV/AIDS/STD. Although it may take four or five hours to complete this training, the rewards in terms of programme success for teachers and students are well worth the effort.
Peer leaders may be selected by their peers, or by the teacher, but they should not be forced into the role. They must be well-liked by other students - not seen by the classmates as the teachers pet. They might also be older students, who are considered opinion-leaders, are self-confident and able to listen to others. A mix of boys and girls is desirable.
Training will ensure that the peer leader will:
1. Understand the purpose of the HIV/AIDS/STD programme and the importance of the peer leaders role within it
2. Be skilled in helping the teacher and students with the more difficult activities
3. Be able to help small groups of students operate effectively
4. Be a good listener, provide feedback, and be able to understand the feelings of their peers
5. Know the sources of information and counselling so that students can be referred to appropriate help.
If you decide to involve peer leaders, you may consider giving them some reward for their effort, such as a certificate, a partial school credit, recognition at a school or community gathering, or a T-shirt.
Section B-7 gives an example of a peer leader training guide. The workshop materials presented may be helpful in developing your own training materials.