South Africa: Education dept improves HIV response plan

Pretoria – The Basic Education Department has developed a Draft Integrated Strategy on HIV and Aids to help it play an active role in reducing the number of new infections.

The Draft Integrated Strategy on HIV and AIDS 2012 – 2016, which was presented to education stakeholders on Monday, is intended to guide the department’s response to the pandemic over the next five years and also respond to the needs of those infected and affected by the virus.

The strategy will ensure that schools become centres for enhancing access to services and that the department will continue to build on existing programmes that involve parents and communities.

During the release of the draft document on Monday, the department invited education stakeholders to a seminar with the aim of stimulating dialogue, getting input and comments before the document is finalised. It expected to be released later this year.

The draft document follows the department’s first intervention on HIV and Aids, which came in 1998 through the development of the National Policy on HIV and Aids for Learners and Educators in Public Schools and Students and Educators in Further Education and Training Institutions.

Addressing the stakeholders, Basic Education Deputy Minister Enver Surty stressed that HIV was a development challenge affecting every sector of society.

“The education system is a critical lever for development and must play an active role in helping to reduce new infections and responding to the needs of those infected and affected by HIV/AIDS,” said Surty.

Surty said the primary response that the department instituted is the HIV/AIDS Life Skills Education Programme, which largely focuses on preventing infection among learners. It is being offered as part of the curriculum across all grades through the Life Orientation subject.

Commenting on the new draft, South African Democratic Teachers Union General Secretary, Mugwena Maluleke, said commended the department for moving from only focusing on HIV prevention amongst learners through the Life Skills Programme, towards new policy to target a larger audience representing all levels within the education arena to mitigate the effects of the HIV pandemic.

“In the light of the limited impact on the pandemic of individual focused biomedical interventions and reported success interventions in other countries, a revised and integrated strategy on HIV/AIDS … promised better results,” said Maluleke.

Source – BuaNews

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