Scaling up comprehensive prevention education in the Ukraine
“We have to join our efforts to ensure that all Ukrainian school students get good-quality prevention education, and acquire the knowledge and skills necessary to stay healthy and be protected from HIV, drug use and other threats to their health and wellbeing,” said Oleg Yeresko, of the Ukrainian Ministry of Education, Science, Youth and Sports.
Mr Yeresko was speaking at the launch of a new project which aims to scale up the provision and improve the quality of school-based prevention education.
Launched on 5 April 2012, the new project will help to enhance teacher pre- and in-service training for sustainable delivery of Basics of Health, an obligatory subject for primary and secondary school, as well as other courses on HIV prevention for high school. Basics of Health covers a variety of topics concerning physical and emotional development and growth, from reproductive and sexual health, prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted infections, to gender, human rights, communication skills and family. However, a lack of well-prepared teachers impedes country-wide implementation.
Education authorities and parents often lack knowledge about the Basics of Health course or its benefits. Therefore, advocacy and awareness-raising among parents and school administrations is included as a focus of the project. Quality of teaching is another priority which will be addressed through updated standards for effective prevention education. The project will also build up each school’s capacity to accommodate students living with HIV or affected by the epidemic and protect them from stigma and discrimination.
UNESCO is providing technical assistance to the All-Ukrainian Association of Trainers and Teachers and the “Health through Education” Children’s Fund –to develop teacher training modules, standards, advocacy kits for educators and parents, and to adapt Practical Recommendations on HIV Policy Implementation in Education Sector (UNESCO, ILO, 2011) to the Ukrainian context.
By late 2014, it is expected that twenty seven postgraduate teacher training institutes and several teacher-training universities will have the capacity to deliver quality pre- and in- service prevention education and that 36,000 teachers will be trained. Standards for effective prevention education are being introduced in 400 schools across the country, which will serve as good practice and knowledge dissemination hubs for other schools in their regions. The project will contribute to the national goal of reaching all students in grades 1 to 9 with comprehensive prevention education.