Talking about AIDS is still taboo in our country. But now, teachers across the country have taken it upon themselves to bring about a change.
On the occasion of World AIDS Day, 25 teachers from 10 states of India were felicitated for imparting knowledge on HIV/AIDS amongst young school students.
The teachers’ efforts in implementing the Adolescence Education Programme (AEP) was recognised at a ceremony in the Capital on Friday. “Initially, we were hesitant about taking up the training programme on AIDS. But we realised it was necessary. It was difficult convincing the parents that their children needed to be made aware of such issues, but eventually, they agreed,” said Lakhapati Mangal Gourishankar, a teacher from Balasaheb Desai High School, Sangli, Maharashtra.
She is one of the teachers who imparted knowledge on the issue through the AEP. AEP is an effort by the Department of Education and the National AIDS Control Organisation (NACO) in partnership with Unesco, Unicef and UNFPA, to prevent new HIV infections.
The programme is implemented in all states across the country. The programme is clearly working where it is required the most – at the grassroots level. Ruchi Chauhan, a Class X student of Government Co-ed Senior School, Vikaspuri who has been part of the AEP, cited her own example.
“Initially, it was quite embarrassing for us to talk openly about these issues with our teachers. When they conducted special classes and we had questions, we had a chit-box system so that we could drop in anonymous queries. But this gradually changed, to the extent that we also went up and talked to our parents about AIDS and HIV,” she said.
Eimar Barr, deputy director-Programmes, Unicef, India also feels that parents and the community should be involved in “all aspects of a child’s education. In India, it is difficult for parents and children to openly talk about issues like AIDS and sexuality. But these barriers need to be broken. And the entire approach needs to be age-appropriate,” he said.