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Developing curricula to improve the HIV prevention skills of high school students in Ethiopia

November 07, 2014

The 2011 Ethiopia Demographic and Health Survey found that Ethiopian youth begin high school with little knowledge of HIV prevention and reproductive health issues. They also lack the skills and social support to make decisions that protect their reproductive health.

Recognizing this gap, the USAID/Ethiopia In-School Youth (ISY) program is collaborating with the Federal Ministry of Education to integrate reproductive health education and HIV prevention activities into the curricula for students in grades 9 through 12 (ages 15–18). The Federal Ministry of Education provides the only platform capable of supporting a comprehensive program that can be delivered at scale and sustainably.

Through this program, nearly 1,000 teachers from 62 schools across five regions were trained by specialists from regional education bureaus. The training helped build the capacity of high school teachers to deliver reproductive health education and HIV prevention activities in the regular classroom.

“I found the training [to be] very important and so far, I have taught my students two of the activities,” said Ethiopia Hailu, an English teacher from the Millennium Secondary School in Addis Ababa. When describing the curriculum integration approach, she added, “The approach teaches students both the subject matter in the topic and the activity that directly relates to their lives in an engaging and enjoyable way.”

The 10–15 minute exercises, which were previously didactic, now focus on strengthening life skills through interaction and participation. The following life skills are emphasized:

  • Making good decisions
  • Being more assertive, particularly for women (that is, expressing themselves, making decisions, resisting peer pressure)
  • Setting realistic goals
  • Boosting self-confidence
  • Resisting peer pressure

To integrate the curricula, ISY held a series of workshops during which federal and regional curriculum experts linked specific subject lessons with appropriate skill-building activities. As a result, 12 grade-specific manuals were produced for teachers to use in each of the high school grades.

After the first year of activities, the Federal Ministry of Education plans to organize a workshop to gather feedback from teachers to strengthen and scale up the curriculum integration process.