IATT Symposium: Teachers and HIV & AIDS

© Photoshare/S. Hawkey

The UNAIDS Inter-Agency Task Team (IATT) on Education held its 15th annual meeting in Limerick, Ireland, 15-17 June, 2009.

Click here to download a copy of the conference report.

Also see the e-forum report on Teachers and HIV & AIDS.

‘Teachers and HIV & AIDS: Reviewing achievements, identifying challenges’, was attended by over 60 participants representing bilateral, multilateral and civil society organizations, including nearly 20 IATT member agencies.

Dr. Peadar Cremin, President of Mary Immaculate College, Limerick and Mr. Peter Power T.D., Minister of State for Overseas Development at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland officially opened the Symposium. The Minister highlighted the role of the IATT and that of the Irish overseas development in responding to the AIDS epidemic, and launched the IATT publication A Strategic Approach; HIV & AIDS and Education, featured on the UNAIDS webpage.

The Symposium programme included a keynote presentation from David Clarke, drawing on the recent publication by UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) entitled ‘Heroes and villains: Teachers in the education response to HIV’. The presentation highlighted evidence on the main achievements and challenges of involving teachers in the HIV response, as well as key future avenues for maximizing teacher effectiveness in HIV education. This was followed by a presentation from Helena Awurusa of the Ghana National Association of Teachers who highlighted the challenges teachers face in implementing HIV education and the role of teachers’ unions in motivating and supporting teachers.

An interactive panel discussion on key issues impacting on the effective involvement of teachers in the HIV response included interventions from Ms. Amicoleh Mbaye from The Gambia’s Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Dr. Tania Vergani of the University of the Western Cape in South Africa, and Dr. Aidan Mulkeen of the World Bank. The panellists challenged participants to consider “what we want our learners to become” and to help to create a “safe space for [students] to start talking about some of the issues.” They noted that “many programmes are setting teachers up for failure” and challenged development partners to help countries better prepare teachers to address HIV in the classroom.

An excerpt of the World Bank film, Courage and Hope: African Teachers Living Positively with HIV, was presented. The film includes testimonies from four teachers who detail the challenges they face once their HIV-positive status becomes public. These range from stigmatization to shunning and discrimination against them and their families. Despite the hurdles the teachers face, they are confident that with access to effective care, support and anti-retroviral therapy, they are able to live, and to enjoy full and healthy lives.

In the afternoon, participants broke into three parallel sessions addressing: 1) Involving teachers: policy and management implications; 2) Coverage and content of pre- and in-service teacher training; and 3) Supportive and enabling environment for teachers affected by HIV and AIDS’, with issues of gender and epidemic contexts cutting across the three sessions. The parallel sessions provided participants with the opportunity to discuss effective programmes, lessons learned, and challenges to scaling up interventions.

The Symposium concluded with a discussion on teachers and HIV in the Education for All (EFA) agenda, and included consideration of how these issues could be better addressed through the International Task Force on Teachers for EFA and the EFA Global Monitoring Report. The concluding plenary discussion addressed key recommendations on policy and research to guide decision-makers on the way forward.

The Symposium called for an evidence-based, comprehensive and systemic approach to meeting the rights and multi-faceted needs of teachers as human beings.

e-Forum on Teachers and HIV & AIDS

Back to top