Eight EI affiliates in Benin have just set up a new joint committee called COSIEB to implement their HIV and AIDS education through schools programme. The eight unions organise teachers from early to higher education and will be able to reach out to teachers of all levels in Benin.
Each union will have a clear role to play within the new Committee, from coordination to communication and the actual implementation of activities in schools. This is not the first time such a partnership has been struck between unions working on health education: similar structures have already been created in order to facilitate the EFAIDS Programme (notably EI unions in Senegal and Ivory Coast). However this is the first time that so many unions have come together, leaving aside their differences in order to form a united front against the spread of HIV in schools.
The Benin initiative differs from the other EFAIDS Programmes in the sense that it concentrates solely on HIV and AIDS education, at least for the time being. The programme is supported by EI and the Regional Office of the WHO in Africa (AFRO).
Just as in all other Sub-Saharan countries, Benin is confronted with the challenge of tackling the AIDS pandemic and the education sector is no exception to this. The prevalence rate is relatively low at the school level (0.1-0.25%). This is said to be due to the immediate action of the various actors in Benin and in particular the integration of HIV and AIDS into the curriculum. However the unions note that the impact of this action is still very much limited and they therefore intend to reignite and step up efforts to respond to the HIV/AIDS challenge at the school level.
The programme activities will focus on the transfer of knowledge and above all on methods of influencing and modifying attitudes and behaviour among teachers and teacher union members. As a first step, 80 unionists at the national level will receive training and then, during a second session, be enabled to begin using the cascade system of training, in other words training members of their union and ‘focal point’ teachers in primary schools, secondary schools and universities. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].