|Learning and Teaching about AIDS at School (UNAIDS, 1997, 8 p.)|
· Young people (those aged 10-24 years) can be a great asset in helping prevent HIV and bringing the epidemic under control. As they are still developing behaviour and experimenting in sexual matters, they can adopt safer practices more easily than adults.
· At the same time, young people are particularly vulnerable to HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). In many countries, 60% of all new HIV infections are among 15-24 year-olds.
· There are more than one billion adolescents in the world. Their number in developing countries - over 800 million - will increase by 20% in the next 15 years. Young people are very valuable to society. It is worth investing heavily in them so that they can protect their own health and stay alive, as well influence and educate their peers. This can be done by promoting effective AIDS programmes in school alongside preventive efforts in the community and the media.
· Good AIDS education covers effective prevention, care and support for people with HIV/AIDS, and non-discrimination. Education of this kind has been shown to help young people to delay sex and, when they become sexually active, to avoid risk behaviour.
· However, AIDS education in school is often denied to children and young people because:
- the subject is considered too sensitive or controversial to be taught
- it is difficult to find a place for AIDS education in an already overcrowded curriculum
- there may be only partial coverage in a country
- education may be limited to certain age groups
- information on AIDS is taught, but not the behavioural skills needed for prevention and support
- the curriculum is of poor quality.
· Ways to overcome these problems include:
- creating a partnership between policy-makers, religious and community leaders, parents and teachers
- using this partnership to set sound policies on AIDS education
- designing a good curriculum and/or a good extracurricular programme, adapted to local culture and circumstances.
· In collaboration with the ministry of education, the national AIDS programme should:
- aim towards 100% coverage of schoolchildren with AIDS education
- advocate and facilitate policies and programmes towards this goal
- monitor implementation of the programmes, and evaluate their impact on students behaviour.