EduCan Members Report on HIV School Programmes

By Thomas John Holmes

Member states of the Caribbean Education Sector HIV and AIDS coordinator network (EduCan) have been engaged in numerous activities within the Ministry of Education in their respective countries. Their main purpose has been to create understanding and tolerance that contribute to the prevention of HIV and reduce stigma and discrimination against the vulnerable in and out of school youth.

The member states have been delivering numerous programmes in collaboration with their respective National HIV and AIDS Units and agencies and organisations including the Education Development Centre (EDC), Bank of Nova Scotia, Ministries of Health, Gender, Youth and Labour. This collaborative effort demonstrates inclusion of significant stakeholders in the development and protection of the youth, prevention of HIV and support for those who are infected or affected by HIV and AIDS.

World Aids Day (1 December 2010)

The HIV Focal Points within the Ministry of Education (MOE) from the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and St.Kitts have planned numerous activities to observe World AIDS Day (WAD), 2010, through collaboration with the National HIV and AIDS Unit and relevant agencies and organisations, specifically to sensitise school populations, parents and the general public.

World AIDS Day Activity St. Kitts and Nevis

World AIDS Day presentation by students of the Deane Glasford Primary School
Photo by Ruby Thomas

Main features for this year’s WAD are poster, poetry and essay competitions among primary, secondary and tertiary schools levels. A couple islands have also included arts competitions and exhibitions. Successful competitors will be awarded prizes while their work will be displayed at various government institutions and the Ministry of Education in respective countries.

In addition to these competitions, the MOE HIV Focal Points have planned the following activities to sensitise and train students, parents, teachers and MOE officials:

  • General school assemblies
  • Church services
  • Rally and T-Shirt Day
  • Art, music and drama depicting the situation of HIV and AIDS
  • Showing of locally-made HIV DVD: “It Only Takes One” (Dominica) and Video: “Hurry Dog Eat Corn” (St. Kitts)
  • Leadership Training in prevention of HIV
  • Viewing of HIV DVDs and videos followed by group discussions
  • Parent symposium and workshops
  • Training for teachers and MOE senior officials in Monitoring and Evaluation in the education sector

Poem Icon Click HERE to read a poem by Benzyl Blake a student from Washington Archibald High School, St. Kitts and Nevis

Activities in the Bahamas commence in November 2010 during the annual HIV and AIDS school competition and exhibition period with the theme: Universal Access and Human Rights, Show you Care, Don’t Discriminate.

Collaborative Work to Enhance the Education Sector HIV Programme

HIV/AIDS Workshop Barbados HIV/AIDS Stakeholder Workshop in Barbados
Photo by Hughson Inniss

Collaborative efforts of EduCan members with various agencies and organisations have been instrumental in developing and implementing various HIV Programmes to sensitise and train relevant stakeholders within the Ministry of Education. The National HIV and AIDS Units in the different territories lead the way in providing technical and financial support for implementing and completing activities with assistance from agencies and organisations including the Education Development Centre (EDC), UNESCO, UNICEF, Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs), Youth Ambassador for Positive Living (in the Bahamas) and the Bank of Nova Scotia and government ministries.

Barbados is working in collaboration with the Bank of Nova Scotia to facilitate the IN-FO LIFE Programme at the Secondary School level that is intended to empower students with appropriate life skills and highlight the realities and dangers of HIV and AIDS including risks, abstinence, stigma and discrimination, safer sex practices, behaviour change and making the right choices.

St. Kitts collaborated with the EDC to develop a comprehensive education sector policy and strategic plan which also involved participants from NGOs, Faith Based Organisations (FBOs), and officials from the Ministries of Labour, Gender, Youth, Health, and Civil Society. Further, there was meaningful collaboration with the St. Kitts based Caribbean Alliance for HIV and AIDS to train counsellors in Behaviour Change Communication and Stigma and Discrimination.

The MOE in Guyana collaborated with the School Health and Nutrition and HIV/AIDS Unit for the following:

  • Tutor training to deliver Health and Family Life Education (HFLE) curriculum
  • HIV and AIDS Sensitisation sessions for MOE employees, teachers, students and parents
  • Monitoring and Evaluation training sessions
  • HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy

In the Bahamas the MOE collaborated with the Youth Ambassadors for Positive Living (YAPL) to host a Mega Youth Fest Symposium for junior and senior high school students and further collaborated with the AIDS Foundation of the Bahamas to read a book on HIV to all 6th Graders.

In Dominica the MOE HIV Focal point maintains a close relationship with the National HIV and AIDS Response Programme to facilitate training for Pastoral Care Coordinators, teachers and Guidance Counsellors and also organise HIV sensitisation sessions for Grade Six and Form One students. There have also been discussions and workshops with the Ministry of Establishment, Personnel and Training Department to formulate a National HIV/AIDS Workplace Policy from which will derive a Ministry of Education Workplace Policy.

Completed and Ongoing HIV Activities

St. Kitts have embarked on a Four Priority Area to address the HIV and AIDS situation:

  • Leadership in Planning and Implementation
  • Elimination of Stigma and Discrimination
  • Upholding the Rights of People infected and affected
  • Implementation of the HFLE and HIV/AIDS Programme

These areas will include NGOs, FBOs, teachers, principals and officials of the Early Childhood Education, primary and secondary levels.

Guyana commenced an important 5-year HIV Prevention Programme in 2005 with the theme: Safeguarding our Workforce, with the following objectives:

To prevent the spread of HIV

To provide care and support for persons infected and affected with HIV and AIDS, and

To promote positive behaviour change within the Ministry of Education

It is anticipated, after discussions and presentations to significant stakeholders, that CariMAN (Caribbean Male Action Network) will work closely with EduCan and all Ministries of Education in the Caribbean to address the development of in and out of school young males. CariMAN has identified an education core group within its organisation that will be collaborating with different groups and organisations within the Ministry of Education. (For further information on CariMAN view the article entitled: Regional Workshop on Masculinities, Gender Equality and Development in the Caribbean on the EduCan website

EduCan member states will augment their activities at all levels in the education system with emphasis on empowering students in the fight to curtail and eventually prevent the spread of HIV. Further, complementing HIV programmes will continue to focus on the parents and teachers who are expected to give support to the students.

Father Only Parenting Programme

Fathers only Parenting Programme, Dominica
Photo by Nyx Serrant from the Convent Preparatory School

The Next Level

Programmes and activities identified for development and implementation include the following:

  • Peer helper and peer counselling training on the prevention of HIV (St. Kitts, Dominica, Barbados)
  • Parenting symposium and
    workshops on prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS and caring for
    those infected and affected by HIV and AIDS (St. Kitts, Dominica,
  • Training in HIV
    Monitoring and Evaluating in the Education sector for teachers,
    principals and senior education officials (Dominica, St. Kitts)
  • Launching of E-Learning Toolkit (Barbados)
  • Art, music and drama to address prevention and treatment of HIV and AIDS (St. Kitts)
  • Utilising HFLE components in reference to life skills and HIV (Guyana, Dominica, St. Kitts)
  • Inclusion of out of school youths and pre-service teachers in HIV prevention Programmes (Dominica,
  • HIV and AIDS Sensitisation sessions for students, teachers and parents (Guyana, Dominica, Bahamas, Barbados, St. Kitts)
  • Involvement of Faith Based Organisations (Bahamas, St. Kitts)

The commitment remains for EduCan members to collaborate with their respective National HIV and AIDS Units to continue sensitisation sessions for students, teachers and parents during whole class sessions, peer counselling, teacher training and parenting programmes.

Contributors: Educan Members from the Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana and St.Kitts

Written by:

Thomas John Holmes
Guidance Counsellor
EduCan Executive Chair

Character Counts! Coordinator
Ministry of Education and Human Resource Development
EST Building
Cornwall Street
Commonwealth of Dominica
Tel: 1-767-266-5567/5591
Cell: 1-767-613-2076//1-767-275-6217