A report measuring the results of a nationwide pilot program on HIV/AIDS
education for secondary school pupils has concluded it was so successful that it
should be continued.
The assessment questioned around 2,500 Grade Nine
students from rural, urban and remote schools. It was carried out by the
Ministry of Education, UNESCO and the World AIDS Foundation.
that the three day education program considerably improved students' knowledge
on AIDS prevention. School directors, teachers, parents and pupils
overwhelmingly hailed the scheme as a good step forward in the battle to educate
the youth about HIV/AIDS.
The head of UNESCO's education program, Supote
Prasertsri, said the object of the evaluation was to find out if students had
benefited from the scheme. The results were so encouraging that it would now be
integrated into the government's five year education plan and the national
"We hope school health departments, teachers and NGOs will
integrate this feedback," said Prasertsri. "It was very productive and [the
program] will have an impact on millions of children."
Before they took
the three-day education course, the students took a test gauging their knowledge
about attitudes towards HIV and how to protect themselves from the disease.
Afterwards they were tested again.
The mean average increased from 72 to
84 points. The improvement was more marked for girls: the percentage with a high
level score (75 to 100 points) jumped from around half to 87 percent. For boys,
around half gained a high-level score before the course - that figure reached 81
But it was not all smooth sailing. The report
recognized that cultural sensitivities about sex needed to be taken more into
account. Female teachers were embarrassed demonstrating condom use in front of
male students, whereas pupils felt the classes should be separated by
One of the key steps required to improve the reach of the program
was to introduce it permanently into the national curriculum. Others involved
improved training of all secondary school teachers in HIV/AIDS education, and a
stronger focus on measures to reduce discrimination of people with
Prasertsri felt confident all the recommendations would be
implemented, although he conceded that other hurdles still
"First we need to find the funds for training the teachers," he
said. "We also need to conduct the classes more regularly and for a longer
However the main barrier, he noted, was the low numbers of
children who were able to receive secondary education.
secondary schools is only 20 percent, so our program only reaches 20 percent of
the youths," Prasertsri said. "The best recommendation we can give is to get
more children into secondary education."
The HIV/AIDS Prevention
Education Program for Secondary Schools ran from 1998 to 2000, and targeted all
Grade Nine and Grade Twelve students in Cambodia. The pilot program was funded
by the UNFPA and the World AIDS Foundation.