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EDUCATION PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
28 August 2001
HIV/AIDS INTEGRATED PROGRAMME IN SCHOOLS
Department of Education HIV/AIDS Strategy Powerpoint presentation
The Department of Education recognises that it is in a key position for tackling the HIV/AIDS pandemic as it moulds the youth of the country. HIV/AIDS education is an exceptionally important priority to the Department. The Department is in the process of implementing an integrated programme on HIV/AIDS in schools. HIV/AIDS education will be introduced in all subjects in schools. Guidelines will be provided to assist educators in incorporating the programme in every learning area. HIV/AIDS and life skills are part of curriculum policy in the new Curriculum 2005 that is currently being implemented in Grades 1-9.
The Department is working in partnership with NGOs to boost the success of the programme. The government has given a conditional grant of R300 million to address the HIV/AIDS issue within the curriculum as part of an integrated programme with the Departments of Health and Social Development.
Ms Kgobati Magome, the HIV/AIDS adviser in the Ministry of Education, made the presentation. The Chief Director: Schools Education in the Ministry, Mr Edcent Williams, accompanied her.
Ms Magome said that the core business of the Department of Education is to educate and build skills so as to contribute to a vibrant democratic society. The Department was best placed to respond to the HIV/AIDS pandemic given its key role as an educator. It was strategically placed to turn around the onslaught of the pandemic since it is in the business of moulding youth in their prime. The Department is taking on the AIDS pandemic as one of its key priorities.
Ms Magome said that Programme 1 was a two-pronged strategy. The first looks at AIDS and education and the second addresses Aids as it affects beneficiaries of education. She noted that it was important for the Department to protect the system of education to ensure that there was continued supply of and demand for education. The Department was in the process of developing tools and planning models to facilitate a thorough analysis and understanding of the impact of the Aids pandemic.
The Department, in conjunction with other like-minded organisations, was aligning legislation, policies and strategies to improve monitoring and evaluation systems in institutions. The Department is also building the capacity of the HIV/AIDS Unit to strengthen its management at both national and provincial levels.
Ms Magome said HIV/AIDS and life skills are part of the curriculum policy as per the new Curriculum 2005 that is being implemented in Grades 1-9 at the moment. The brief on instructional programmes in public schools, Report 550, provides for Guidance Health Education as a compulsory subject for Grades 10-12.
The government had given a conditional grant of R300 million to address the HIV/AIDS issue within the curriculum as part of an integrated programme with the Departments of Health and Social Development.
Ms Magome noted that the programme is on schedule so far and working very well on the ground. All provincial DOEs have unveiled business plans to implement the programme.
She said that the Ministry had mooted an integrated HIV/AIDS programme across the curriculum, which provides guidelines for educators, and assists them in incorporating the programme in every learning area. The Department was in the process of preparing a programme for early childhood education and for learners with special needs.
She continued that the Department was working with the South African Vice-chancellor Association to develop and implement the HIV/AIDS programme in higher learning institutions. This touches on the area of research, which is crucial for the development of a vaccine.
The Department was supporting the inclusion of the HIV/AIDS programme into pre-service training for tertiary institutions. She emphasised the importance of the need for all new graduates to be aware of the demands and intricacies that would be faced in the work place.
She said that the Department was establishing an identification and support system for learners in distress and especially those orphaned by the AIDS pandemic. She said the Ministry was promoting schools as centres of support and hope for communities.
The Department has put into place work place programmes to be developed and adapted by schools as a model work place. The programmes include preventive and promotive education to ensure that those unaffected remain negative and those infected live positively. The programme also seeks to involve educators living with HIV/AIDS.
The programme incorporates communal events like sports, ball games, motivational talks and cultural programmes for maximum impact.
In conclusion, Ms Magome noted that the magnitude of the HIV/AIDS pandemic dictates that educators should adopt non-traditional methods to arrest the pandemic’s wild spread. She said that innovative ways are put to use so as to communicate the anti-AIDS message more effectively.
The Chair asked how the three the departments of Health, Education and Social Development are integrated into the programme.
Ms Magome replied that the Department of Education focuses on training in life skills while the Department of Health handles treatment and mother to child transmission and the Department of Social Development deals with community support.
Mr Green (ACDP) asked if and how the Department was addressing the issue of the connection between malnutrition and the onset of full-blown AIDS among learners in schools.
Ms Magome replied that the issue of malnutrition belongs to the Social Sector of departments and is being addressed in terms of food security and school feeding programmes. The government was in the process of reviewing the type of menu to be offered to schools to ensure a properly balanced diet.
Mr Nhlengetha (ANC) asked how the Department identifies those who are negative and those infected in order to provide the correct intervention.
Ms Magome replied that no testing is undertaken to identify those who are negative or infected. For those who are affected, there are signs like perennial absenteeism, which characterises orphaned children. Some people come forward to declare their status so that they can be assisted. The Department pursues an active policy of encouraging people to come out in the open and declare their status. She decried the stigma that is associated with AIDS which scares people into silence.
Ms Njobe (ANC) asked about the involvement of parents in the whole programme. Mr Aucamp (AEB) also wanted to know where parents fit into the department’s declared strategy.
Ms Magome replied that parents are very much part of this important campaign. The business plan had parent involvement as one of its core component. She explained that even before the programme is implemented, district officials deal with schools first then roll over to the communities.
Ms Mnandi said that she had visited some universities which had refused to distribute condoms to students. She wanted to know what the Department is doing about this defiance.
Ms Magome replied that universities were autonomous and that the Department cannot impose programmes on them. She however pointed out that the Department was working with vice-chancellors on how to incorporate these programmes into the university curriculum.
Ms Ntuli (ANC) pointed out that denial was the biggest hindrance to the success of anti-Aids programmes. To what extent were educators empowered to deal with this enduring obstacle.
Mr E. Williams, the Chief Director, replied that there were workplace programmes to build capacity. He explained that the Department had employed a full time co-ordinator and two for larger provinces to monitor and evaluate progress while giving support where necessary.
He added that a financial officer had also been appointed to expedite issues of finance regarding the programme. There was in-service seminar training to upgrade the knowledge of educators.
Ms Njobe (ANC) wanted to know how funds were distributed provincially.
Ms Magome replied that funding was disbursed on an equitable basis and not on the basis of highest HIV/AIDS incidence. The logic behind this was that the programme was preventive rather than curative intervention.
Mr Kgwele (ANC) asked what measures, if any, are in place to encourage openness on this issue. What the Department is doing to support those who declare their positive status.
Ms Magome replied that the Department offers counselling services to those who come forward. To encourage disclosure, the Department had a policy of employing those already infected in the programme. Once a person comes out in the open, there is a whole programme of support.
Mr Mpontshane (IFP) asked how the Department ensures that those recruited in teacher training institutions are not infected and whether the issue of teacher-learner sexual liaisons was being addressed.
Ms Magome replied that it is unconstitutional to test anybody without consent. The Department does not, therefore, test the HIV status of those joining colleges. As for teacher-learner sexuality, where such incidents are drawn to Department’s attention, they are exposed for appropriate action.
Mr Moonsamy (ANC) inquired whether the Department had borrowed from the experience of Uganda in tackling the Aids menace.
Ms Magome said that they had. The programme was richly informed by experience from the continent and around the globe. She added that the Department had in fact perfected what the Uganda had done by learning from their successes and failures.
Prof Ripinga (ANC) wanted to know the kind of constraints the Department had encountered in its implementation programmes.
Ms Magome replied that this was a new programme which was beginning to take root. She admitted that there were challenges of resource capacity which had driven the Department to co-partner with NGOs. She added that teachers themselves were already overstretched with the school curriculum to be able to handle this new programme with ease. The issue of priorities in poorly resourced schools was a major obstacle to the smooth implementation of the programme. She admitted that the programme looked rosy on paper but was rough on the ground in terms of implementation.
The Chair thanked the presenters and adjourned the meeting.