Anambra State AIDS Control Agency (ANSACA) has called on the Ministry of Education to consider the integration of family life and health education into the state’s school curriculum.
The agency said such integration would not only assist in addressing the growing Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) crisis among young people, but also reduce stigma and discrimination associated with the scourge.
Speaking during an advocacy visit to the ministry, Executive Director, Johnbosco Ementa, also called on the ministry to consider allocating resources for teachers’ training, curriculum development and programme rollout.
He regretted that Anambra currently has the highest prevalence of HIV in the Southeast region, cautioning that the absence of intervention for in-school youth could result in increasing new infections, especially among adolescents.
However, Ementa expressed confidence in the ministry’s capacity to provide the required leadership in monitoring and evaluating the programme’s performance and impact in collaboration with relevant stakeholders.
He said: “The increasing prevalence of HIV among adolescent youths is a public health issue. Currently, Anambra State has witnessed a disturbing rise in HIV infection rates among adolescents.
“The purpose of this advocacy brief is to present the case for incorporating Family Life and Health Education into the state school curriculum.
“This, of course, has the potential to equip our youths with the information and skills they need to take care of their health, including preventing HIV/AIDS. This advocacy brief highlights the critical need for the implementation of comprehensive family life and health education within schools in the state.
“By providing adolescents with knowledge and skills to make informed decisions about their sexual and reproductive health, we can significantly reduce HIV transmission rates.
“The inclusion of Family Life and Health Education in schools is crucial towards empowering adolescents with knowledge about HIV prevention.
“It provides adolescents and young people with relevant and age-appropriate information and skills necessary for rational decision-making about their sexual and reproductive health.”
Responding, Commissioner for Education, Prof. Ngozi Chuma-Udeh, assured her ministry’s readiness to partner with the agency in the fight against the scourge.
She said: “The highest scourge humanity has witnessed outside tuberculosis is HIV and syphilis. So, it’s a thing of joy that there are people out there battling to secure and safeguard the lives of others.
“As a ministry, apart from establishment of HIV awareness clubs in the schools, I don’t think there’s much we can do since our curriculum flows from the national curriculum.
“The only thing we can do is to domesticate the programme by adding some extracurricular in form of student clubs, which are not mandatory. So, the onus still lies on the principals.
“I’m going to institute a committee in the ministry that will kick off this in schools to support what you’re doing. You can count on our support because the fight is everybody’s responsibility.
“We all have children. Once we visit barbing salons, markets, etc, we’re all concerned. If you see such initiatives and look away, you’re like one throwing stones in the marketplace.”
SOURCE: The Nation