Every year on the 1st of December, the world marks World AIDS Day (WAD), where people around the world unite in the fight against HIV and show their support for those affected by the virus. According to the latest data from the Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa has the highest number of people living with the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) in the world. It is estimated that 7.9 million South Africans are HIV positive. On a positive note, 62% of them are receiving life-saving anti-retroviral treatment (HSRC, 2017).
The national theme for WAD 2018 is “Cheka Impilo. Know Your Status”. The theme places the responsibility on everyone to test and know their HIV status. In our sector, learners, educators and officials are urged to play an active part to test for HIV and to screen for TB and other health conditions. The Department of Basic Education (DBE) will use the 2018 theme to guide activities beyond the 2018 DBE World AIDS Day Commemoration.
Globally, there is recognition that schools have a crucial role to play in the prevention of and fight against HIV and TB. After the family/home, schools are the secondary places responsible for the holistic development of children and influencing positive behaviour and attitudes that support lifelong overall health and well-being.
The Department can count, amongst others, the following successes:
- Implementation of the HIV and AIDS Life skills programme that has expanded its focus beyond curriculum activities to include programmes to address the drivers of HIV and teenage pregnancy such as alcohol and drug use, early sexual debut and concurrent sexual relationships;
- Progressive strengthening of Comprehensive Sexuality Education (CSE) in Life Orientation through teacher training on CSE and provision of aligned Learning and Teaching materials;
- Provision of a package of pro-poor programmes, peer education as well as care and support services for orphans and other vulnerable learners to enable them to attend school and perform optimally;
- Promulgation and implementation of the DBE National Policy on HIV, STIs and TB for Learners, Educators, School Support Staff and Officials in all Primary and Secondary Schools in the Basic Education Sector (DBE National Policy on HIV, STIs and TB) which was approved by Cabinet in 2017;
- Strengthening Employee Health and Wellness Programmes targeting educators and officials; and
- Annually hosting the Commemoration of WAD in the Department including build-up activities with educators, learners, officials and parents. DBE also participates actively in the South African National AIDS Council (SANAC) and national WAD events that are led by the Deputy President.
The Department’s approach includes addressing the risk and protective factors for HIV infection, Sexually Transmitted Infections, Tuberculosis and teenage pregnancy. Thus programmes include a focus on stigma, discrimination, delaying sexual debut, sexual harassment/abuse, age-disparate sex, multiple sexual partners, alcohol, drug and substance use, and promote learner retention and performance in school. Importantly, the Department is mobilising parents and school communities to participate and support the provision of comprehensive sexual and reproductive health interventions, including HIV Testing Services (HTS) in and through secondary schools. Dialogues continue to be held countrywide with learners, parents, school managers and government officials, including those from the Departments of Health and Social Development. The input from the dialogues is used to ensure that our programmes are learner-centered and rights-based.
There has been 3 weeks of build-up activities in the OR Tambo Coastal District which will culminate in the main commemoration event on Friday.
The media is invited to attend the commemoration of WAD 2018 as follows:
Date: Tomorrow, Friday, 30 November 2018
Venue: Pondolwendlovu Senior Secondary School, Ngqeleni, OR Tambo Coastal district, Eastern Cape.
Enquiries: Elijah Mhlanga: 083 580 8275
Troy Martens: 079 758 1546
ISSUED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF BASIC EDUCATION