16.12.2011 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

Iraqi Literacy Facilitators Learn to Teach Youth about HIV and AIDS

© UNESCO Iraq 2011Participants expressing their opinions and remarks during the workshop 10-16 December 2011 in Erbil, Iraq

UNESCO Iraq is continuing its efforts to support the Iraqi Education Sector to respond effectively to the issue of HIV and AIDS with a training workshop for Ministry of Education officials and representatives of Iraqi non-governmental organizations (NGOs).

The seven day training workshop that took place in Erbil, Kurdistan Regional Governorate of Iraq, from 10 – 16 December 2011, is the third in a series of activities related to capacity building around HIV and AIDS. This workshop is aimed at training programme managers and literacy teachers working in literacy centers and NGOs to integrate lessons that incorporate information and skills on HIV and AIDS into their educational programming. A toolkit with different activities has been designed to assist stakeholders in Iraq to integrate the knowledge and skills related to response and prevention of HIV and AIDS into literacy and non-formal educational programming throughout the country. The toolkit is being developed in a participatory manner with a core group of actors in the field of literacy and non-formal education in Iraq. This ensures that the material developed will be appropriate and relevant for use within the context of Iraq.

Around 40 participants, coming from the Ministry of Education, and Iraqi NGOs, have been attending the 7 day training. The majority of the participants have also been involved in the development of the toolkit since the beginning of the process, which started with a study tour to Jordan in February 2011. All of the participants, both officials and civil society organizations, are also active in UNESCO’s LIFE literacy project, which has included the establishment of 8 community learning centers throughout Iraq, which offer literacy, life skills and peace education for learners.

Topics that are being covered in the toolkit include: healthy lifestyles and reproductive health for adolescents, gender equality, drug abuse, stigma, discrimination and vulnerability and life skills in the areas of positive communication, resource and support identification and decision making. The specific vulnerability of women has been discussed and debated, given the high number of females amongst the illiterate population of Iraq, and their particular position within the post-conflict society. Participants have also discussed at length the situation facing youth with regards to HIV, as social media and more open borders change the information and experiences of young people in Iraq. When asked to explain why this training was important for him, Mr. Raowf Saber Rashed, school director in Sulymaniah and an activist on literacy, life skills and HIV/AIDS stated: “We have lived our whole lives with wars. Now we are facing another war..on HIV and AIDS. It is our duty and responsibility {to work on this} and that is why we are working so hard.”

At the conclusion of the training, a plan for piloting the developed toolkit in literacy classrooms and NGO programming across Iraq will be drafted, to take place in 2012. Recommendations for further action from this participant network of officials, teachers and civil society activists will be collected, and a 4th workshop to study impact of the toolkit on teachers and students is planned for late 2012.

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