HIV&Me, a Regency initiative in association with the South African Department of Education, has undergone a number of changes in the course of its development in order to better serve South African schools. HIV&Me is currently expanding its scope to include a School Policy Program and a Family Support Program.
HIV&AIDS SCHOOL POLICY PROGRAM
While government has implemented a national school policy on HIV&AIDS (Act no.27 of 1996), schools are also required to develop their own school-specific HIV&AIDS code of conduct. In working with the schools, however, HIV&Me has observed that these policies often don’t exist, are inadequate or not implemented.
A number of factors contribute to the challenges schools face in developing sound, actionable and measurable policies, and it is this skill and knowledge gap that HIV&Me, in partnership with the Department of Education, will be addressing in the School Policy Program.
Outcomes from research conducted at schools suggests that management are often not familiar with the policy development process or the requirements of an effective HIV code of conduct relevant to their specific environment, and schools are asking for support with this task.
So why is such a policy important? Only last year in KwaZulu-Natal a learner committed suicide when her teacher disclosed her HIV positive status. Did the teacher intend to make this information public, or was she unaware of how and where to seek assistance for the child? .....these are some of the issues that the policy workshops will address.
The program is a two-phase model. Phase 1 involves both an understanding of the strategy and guidelines to develop a working HIV&AIDS policy, the writing of the code of conduct and the policy implementation process - all of which is vetted by the Department of Education. Phase 2 involves a review of the implementation challenges and success, sharing of best practice, and, where required, policy amendment guidance.
HIV&ME FAMILY SUPPORT PROGRAM
Educators providing feedback on the HIV&Me program have pointed out that the circumstances within a learner’s home and family environment may often not support preventative HIV practice and responsible management of HIV&AIDS. HIV&Me realised that integrating its lessons into the family environment is a key factor in promoting continued responsible behaviour and support of the learning outcomes of HIV&Me. In response to this need, HIV&Me have developed a Family Support Program, consisting of HIV&AIDS education evening sessions for parents of the schools’ learners. These sessions will give the parents insight into their child’s HIV&AIDS education, and also provide them with an opportunity to raise questions and concerns, as well as engaging in dialogue with HIV&Me’s experienced trainers in non threatening environment.
HIV&Me is excited to be expanding its program with the assistance of its partners. The School Policy and Family Support Programs represent important developments in HIV&Me’s continued growth, allowing for a more holistic and deeper impact in the schools and communities with which it partners.
For more information on HIV&Me please go to http://www.regency.org/hivandme.html or contact us on the details provided on the Regency website.