UNESCO, as a founding member and Cosponsor of UNAIDS, contributes to the response to AIDS through strategic and complementary approaches. Its distinctive mix of competencies in education, natural science, social and human sciences, culture and communication and information give it an interdisciplinary, organizational and technical capacity suited to contributing to the achievement of universal access to comprehensive HIV prevention programmes, treatment, care and support.

As education has been identified as key to the response and an area of UNESCO’s comparative advantage, much of UNESCO’s actions place special emphasis on addressing risk, vulnerability and system-strengthening through this means.

As the lead agency in the UNAIDS division for HIV prevention with young people in educational institutions, UNESCO continues to promote comprehensive, scaled-up education sector responses to AIDS and deepened education sector engagement in national responses to AIDS. Its leadership of EDUCAIDS (the UNAIDS Global Initiative on Education and HIV & AIDS) and its coordination of the UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education are two mechanisms supporting strengthened strategic partnerships and cooperation among ministries of education, UNAIDS Cosponsors, bilateral agencies and civil society groups at global, regional and country levels to ensure maximum synergy and impact.

UNESCO’s response is guided by a number of principles, including:
Coherence and focus: UNESCO coordinates and focuses its efforts in areas where it has a comparative advantage and can provide added value, in keeping with the UNAIDS division of labour and other recommendations to improve coordination.

  • Ownership and partnership: UNESCO supports country-led, multi-stakeholder processes aiming to achieve internationally-agreed goals.
  • Effectiveness: To promote efficient and effective responses, UNESCO supports approaches grounded upon available and emerging evidence, approaches that are holistic, rights-based, culturally appropriate, age-specific and scientifically accurate, and seek to meaningfully involve people living with HIV and other key stakeholders, promote gender quality, and build on the strengths of all of UNESCO sectors.
  • Flexibility: To meet different needs in different contexts, UNESCO promotes ‘knowing your epidemic’.
  • Sustained action: AIDS must be recognised as a long-term emergency that will require decades of sustained strategic intervention.

The five core areas of UNESCO’s work are:

  1. Advocacy and support for evidence-informed policies and practices – to support national education sector engagement in the national response, to address stigma and discrimination, and to support countries in their efforts to integrate AIDS into national development frameworks.
  2. Policy and programmatic guidance – for ministries, NGOs, and other partners, formulated on the basis of the stage of the epidemic.
  3. Technical support and capacity enhancement – to reinforce synergies with other initiatives and frameworks.
  4. Coordination and harmonisation – through the agreed UNAIDS division of labour, with EDUCAIDS, the UNESCO-led UNAIDS Initiative on Education and AIDS, as a guiding framework.
  5. Monitoring, assessing and evaluating progress – to determine trends, the coverage, quality and effectiveness of programmes, progress toward agreed goals and commitments, and the impact of AIDS on individuals and systems.
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