A shared vision for empowerment and passion for improving lives through education brought the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and TeachAIDS together earlier this year.
Supported by UNAIDS, and located in the heart of Paris, the UNESCO HIV and AIDS Education Clearinghouse is a knowledge and sharing initiative that includes contributions from numerous carefully vetted partner organizations. It supports education professionals, ministries, development agencies, civil society, researchers, and others by providing a comprehensive knowledge base and information exchange service for the development of effective HIV and AIDS policies, programs, and advocacy within the education sector. UNESCO’s initiative hosts an online database that is available in several language and includes over 7,000 references, quick access to best practices for HIV and AIDS education, alerts to scientific articles, a calendar of HIV-related events, a newsletter, a listserv for health professionals, and a search function for literature.
It is estimated that primary education alone could prevent 700,000 new HIV infections every year. UNESCO’s strategy for HIV and AIDS includes consolidating and building on gains in school enrollment and girls’ education (an essential building block of the HIV response) and doing more to maximize the effectiveness of education responses to HIV. The TeachAIDS education model is consistent with the efforts of UNESCO’s initiative as it also provides free health education through the use of research-based, culturally-appropriate learning materials that harness world-class medical and educational expertise and use technology as a means to easily share HIV and AIDS materials globally with those that need them the most.
The UNESCO’s Clearinghouse initiative will provide access to TeachAIDS' more than 100 unique software packages (in various languages/formats) available to partners around the world. TeachAIDS is pleased to work with UNESCO and hopes this partnership with propel even more NGOs, organizations, and individuals to share the TeachAIDS materials with those who need them most.
Uganda is slightly smaller than the state of Oregon. It is a country of beautiful plateaus, towering mountains, and tropical forests. Lake Victoria, the largest lake in Africa by area, is considered the “pearl” of Uganda and feeds into the Nile River.
With 1.2 million people living with HIV, including 150,000 children, Children of Grace, a small Christian nonprofit operating in the town of Jinja, Uganda, is working to combat health challenges by providing education, healthcare, and empowerment programs to enable a bright future. They believe that every child deserves high quality education in order to make informed decisions, turn their dreams into reality, become self-sustaining, and lead their communities out of poverty.
Each year, Children of Grace holds a weeklong camp where students learn life skills and participate in bible studies and other team building activities. In the past, the organization shared some basic education materials regarding HIV and AIDS prevention, but this year, the organization introduced TeachAIDS for the first time. During the week of camp, Children of Grace shared the TeachAIDS materials with 100+ secondary school-aged campers, many of whom have been orphaned as a result of AIDS or who have family members and friends affected by the disease. The organization recognizes the importance of students understanding ways to prevent HIV, as well as having open conversations to reduce the stigma and misunderstanding surrounding the virus. Children of Grace hopes to use the TeachAIDS software in future empowerment camps.
“The video was extremely helpful for both the students and the staff. We were very impressed with the presentation of the information and were thankful for the questions and discussion the video encouraged.”
- Jessica Donohoe, Nurse, Children of Grace
TeachAIDS commends the hard work of Children of Grace, and is proud to support their efforts in Uganda.
"This TeachAIDS video was very helpful, as I was never given any other video to use in my classes on Guidance. I would often search YouTube for relevant ones. TeachAIDS was exactly what I needed; it is relevant, interesting, and factual."
- Jennifer Dixon Malcolm, Waterford High School (St. Catherine, Jamaica)
High school teacher Jennifer Dixon Malcolm recently integrated the TeachAIDS software into her curriculum at the Waterford High School in St. Catherine Parish, Jamaica. Waterford is located in Portmore, a coastal municipality that is predominately a residential community with about 25 schools. Approximately 250 students, ages 12–13, learned from the TeachAIDS animated tutorials.
HIV prevalence in Jamaica is currently about 1.7%, with urban areas reporting the highest numbers of HIV cases. An estimated 32,000 people are living with HIV and up to 50% of them are unaware of their status. National strategies have been implemented to increase access to testing and improve awareness of HIV and AIDS among healthcare workers and the general population, resulting in a reduction of new infections in recent years. Integration of the TeachAIDS materials into school guidance programs supports national efforts to improve general knowledge around issues pertaining to HIV and AIDS.
Malcolm integrated multiple versions of the TeachAIDS animations into her classroom curriculum and used it as an opportunity to teach about cultural diversity. She said, "The kids loved the videos. In fact, I used more than one – Botswana, India, North America etc. Even though the information was basically the same, the kids liked the different accents and terms peculiar to each country. We even got into a discussion about the countries so I was also teaching Geography and Social Studies in my Guidance class."
The TeachAIDS software has been used to teach middle school students about HIV prevention across a number of countries. In addition to the TeachAIDS animated tutorials, many teachers are also using the TeachAIDS Educator Handbook to supplement their lessons. TeachAIDS is proud to support the work of teachers globally in their efforts to educate young people about safe health practices.
Health experts from Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust (MWCT) have been working to educate and empower vulnerable girls, particularly in Chyulu Hills, Kenya. Their goals are two-fold: First, to ensure that female students are attending their classes, and second, to educate them around ways to protect themselves from an HIV infection.
Due to the lack of sanitary supplies, millions of girls miss school every month. In an effort to make it more affordable for girls to attend school during their menstrual periods, MWCT worked with Huru International to obtain free cloth sanitary pads and systematically distribute them. MWCT used this opportunity to educate the girls on reproductive health and HIV prevention, using the TeachAIDS Swahili animated software.
MWCT health educators shared the TeachAIDS software with 99 young girls (13 to 15 years old) at Kuku Primary School. Given that the school did not have electricity, MWCT used a generator and projector to create an entertaining education session to enhance learning in the classroom.
"The room was silent during the viewing as the girls were fully engaged with the TeachAIDS educational program. As a public health worker, it was satisfying to know that the girls were simultaneously entertained and learning from these sound and comprehensive materials. We are so thankful to the TeachAIDS team for developing these life-saving tools for our communities."
- Lena Koh, Health Program Development Director, Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust
With the positive response from the youth and educators, MWCT plans to feature the TeachAIDS technology in all their health activities, including during their regular medical outreach and in their work with women’s groups and community health workers.
MWCT has made significant efforts towards increasing knowledge levels around HIV prevention, treatment, and promotion of behavior change in Kenya, a country that has the fourth largest population living with AIDS in the world. School-based HIV education efforts face significant challenges in Kenya; few children attend secondary school and many parents, teachers, and health officials are reluctant to speak openly about sex publicly. With the majority of the population living in rural areas, such programs are particularly important to engage youth.
The TeachAIDS Swahili tutorials have catalyzed numerous partnerships in Kenya. The software has been used by organizations such as A Better Education Club to educate children in regions inhabited by the Taita tribe, Dignitas Project as part of their leadership programming in Mathare, and Arché-ONLUS in its rural school education efforts. TeachAIDS is delighted to participate in this new alliance with the Maasai Wilderness Conservation Trust and is proud to contribute to the MWCT mission of educating youth about HIV and AIDS in an accurate, engaging, and culturally appropriate way.
Photo: Girls, ages 13-15, watch the TeachAIDS Swahili animated tutorial in Kuku Primary School, Kenya.
Dozens of passionate students from Arapahoe High School, located in the greater Denver metropolis, took action after learning about the many challenges around providing HIV education globally. Led by high school senior, Taven Sparks, the students worked tirelessly over several winter months to create a series of innovative fundraising efforts that raised funds to develop additional versions of the TeachAIDS software.
These efforts were undertaken by the Link Crew, a select group of student leaders who serve as role models and connect with incoming freshmen and transfer students. The Link Crew partnered with local businesses to offer promotions to community members, including with Menchies, a local frozen yogurt shop, before a basketball and volleyball game, and Qdoba, a Mexican grill, after a football game. The students used these opportunities to encourage Arapahoe High community members to join together around these athletic events. Within the school, they shared more about the TeachAIDS mission and global education efforts while hosting a bake sale during the annual Parent Teacher Conferences and selling refreshments at a freshman tailgate.
High school senior, Taven Sparks, who spearheaded the communitywide efforts, said, "I was fortunate to be given the opportunity to work with this great organization. I was really excited when Link Crew wanted to get involved. We've enjoyed planning the fundraising events, and it's rewarding to know that we are making a positive impact globally."
The funds raised will go directly towards an education project to combat issues around HIV education in Karnataka, India (pop. ~52MM). The localized animated software, customized in Kannada, the regional language, will be released in 2013. India has the third-highest number of HIV-positive people in the world, and the state of Karnataka has one of the highest prevalence rates within India. Government officials had previously banned the national sex education curriculum, which included HIV education. However, they approved the TeachAIDS materials for bypassing many of their concerns and committed to distributing the TeachAIDS Kannada animations into every government secondary school (>5,500 institutions) across the state. This follows on the successful launch and distribution of the customized Telugu animations, featuring cultural icons Nagarjuna Akkineni, Anushka Shetty, Navdeep Pallapollu, and Swati Reddy, in the state of Andhra Pradesh (pop. ~84MM).
We thank the Arapahoe High community for their generous support, and commend these young learners for their leadership and sincere dedication to improve social conditions globally.
Photo: Arapahoe High School Link Crew member Tanner Williams raises awareness about the TeachAIDS fundraiser events.