12.08.2012 - UNESCO Office for Iraq

Protect, Prevent, Respect: Empower

A toolkit towards HIV Prevention in Iraq

For the occasion of the International Youth Day 2012, and after months of continuous efforts and close cooperation, the Government of Iraq and UNESCO have announced the launching of an innovative toolkit to help teachers deliver more effective and comprehensive HIV/AIDS and sexuality education. Entitled: ‘Protect, Prevent, Respect: Empower - HIV prevention toolkit for literacy and non-formal education facilitators in Iraq’, it was developed in cooperation with the Ministries of Education in Baghdad and Erbil, and civil society organizations.

The toolkit will be used in different pilot training activities supporting 245 literacy and non-formal education facilitators all over Iraq. This will be combined with additional initiatives including the development of awareness sessions through educational TV programmes and the establishment of Community Learning Centres.

Stressing the importance of this major step, the Minister of Education, Dr. Mohamed Temim asserted that “good education leads to reducing the stigma and prejudice faced by people living with HIV”.

The Director of UNESCO Iraq Office, Mr Mohamed Djelid confirmed that “this toolkit will lead to the application of quality literacy instruction not only in relation to HIV and AIDS, but also in other life skills training and non- formal education programmes". Mr. Djelid added that this toolkit "constitutes a major contribution towards enhancing the quality of life for young Iraqis, as it raises important topics directly linked to their daily lives".

Latest research shows that, literacy and educational programs are instrumental in the prevention of HIV, as well as in reducing discrimination and the toolkit will play a significant role in the development of sustainable educational programmes on HIV, as well as in promoting acceptability and awareness.

Although Iraq is considered as one of the countries with low rate of incidence of HIV/AIDS, a lack of knowledge and misconception are undermining efforts to draw appropriate responses. Information on the number of people living with HIV in Iraq is incomplete due to limited monitoring systems and lack of research on vulnerable groups. Recent conflict and the resulting disruption in both the education and health care systems are expected to have a negative impact on the level of HIV infection and it is now more important than ever to improve knowledge and awareness of the disease.

As an active member of the National AIDS Programme, UNESCO is supporting the efforts of the Ministry of Education, and the civil society organizations, to build institutional capacity to respond to HIV and AIDS and contribute to a comprehensive National Strategy on HIV and AIDS, focused on health education and prevention. These will be enforced through teacher training, curricula development, literacy and non formal education. The promotion of qualitative literacy is crucial in UNESCO’s aim to further HIV prevention while fostering gender equality and protecting human rights. The new toolkit is an important step towards these goals.

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