According to the initially approved timeline, major activities of the second part of the fellowship year included conducting survey with biology teachers and focus group discussions with parents to explore their views and attitudes regarding the introduction of AIDS education in schools.
On the whole, I have generally been able to stick on the original timeline for the second half of the fellowship year and to fulfill the committed activities.
This report presents in a chronological order logistic and research activities implemented during the period from August 2002 till March 2003.
August – September 2002:
During this period, I have been involved in development of focus group (FG) guide to conduct discussions with parents of schoolchildren. The discussion guide was developed taking into consideration recommendations of the mentors and local peculiarities. The guide was developed in English, translated into Armenian, and pre-tested with a target population. Some minor changes and revisions have been incorporated into the guide based on the results of the pre-test. In addition to the discussion guide, a short questionnaire was developed to gather key socio-demographic information on the focus group participants.
Also, a structured interview questionnaire was developed to conduct in-depth interviews with school principals. The main aim of this questionnaire was to explore attitudes of the school majors regarding the necessity of introduction of AIDS education in schools. In-depth interview questionnaire was pre-tested with school principals working both in Yerevan and the region.
Upon development and pre-testing of the FG guide, a series of focus group discussions were conducted with parents of school children leaving in Yerevan and one of the regions, Abovyan city. The focus groups were organized and conducted in a team of researchers comprised of a moderator and a recorder. The focus group discussions were tape-recorded to ensure that no single opinion expressed during discussions by parents was missed.
Late September 2002 two pre-test in-depth interviews with school principals were conducted. After the pre-test, appropriate changes were incorporated in the questionnaire. The pre-test in-depth interviews were conducted by an interviewer who was preliminary trained in how to ask sensitive questions and proceed with illustrative probes.
During this period, I have been actively communicating with my policy-level mentor to discuss research activities, develop plan of actions, and implementation strategies. He was very cooperative in obtaining a letter of support from the Ministry of Education allowing the research team to enter the school and conduct a survey with biology teachers, in-depth interviews with school principals, and implement other research activities.
October – November 2003:
During this period, research activities were continued in Yerevan and the regions. Two research teams were involved in implementation of the focus group discussions with parents and in-depth interviewing with school principals.
In addition to ongoing research activities, I started to develop a questionnaire to conduct a survey among biology teachers working in schools in Yerevan and selected regions of Armenia. The survey with teachers is aimed at investigating teachers’ attitude to integrating HIV/AIDS education in school curriculum, their instructional confidence and comfort with teaching sensitive topics, current knowledge of HIV and AIDS, and needs assessment for teacher development programs in health education. The questionnaire was developed based on the instructional guides developed by the Division of Adolescent and School Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and discussed with the mentors. The questionnaire was developed in English, translated into Armenian and pre-tested with biology teachers working in schools in Yerevan and the regions. Minor changes were introduced in the questionnaire after the pre-test.
In October, I have also participated in 13th OSI Policy Fellowship Seminar, third in the course of this fellowship, which has provided with further insights in how to perform policy analysis and write green and white policy papers.
Upon completing the focus group discussions and in-depth interviews, the field records were transcribed into word-processing format by research assistants and analyzed using ATLAS.ti software program for analysis of qualitative data. Based on the results of analysis, brief summaries of the focus group discussions with parents and in-depth interviews with school principals were prepared for reporting purposes.
December 2002 – January 2003:
During November-December 2002, a survey with biology teachers was implemented with biology teachers working in Yerevan and 4 regions including Aragatsotn, Kotayk, Armavir, and Ararat regions of Armenia. Three research teams were involved in implementing the survey. Initially, the research team contacted a school administration to clarify a number of biology teachers in the school and their working hours, to set up follow-up visits to distribute self-administered questionnaires and collect the completed surveys. From three to six visits to each region were necessary to complete the survey. Overall, there were 123 surveys completed among biology teachers working in 5 regions throughout Armenia. Completed surveys were analyzed using SPSS 11.0 software program.
February - March 2003:
In February, analysis of the survey data was continued, and the findings have been summarized in a report, which has then comprised a part of the final research paper for IPF.
During this period, I have communicated preliminary findings of the research activities to my mentor at the MOES, and through him, to other policy makers at the MOES. The MOES representatives showed genuine interest in the research outcomes and expressed a desire to have both lengthy research paper and brief policy paper in Armenian to circulate it among major stakeholders.
14th OSI Policy Fellowships Seminar, the last in the course of this fellowship, has been a good opportunity to match outgoing and new fellows with similar background/research interests and to ensure effective communication among and continuity of activities of IPF growing community members.
During March 2003 I have also been working on preparation of final reports
(final research paper, activity report, policy paper, and financial report)
and on modifications of my IPF web page. Translation of the research and
policy papers into Armenian has also been initiated. Upon its completion,
the papers will be officially submitted to the Ministry of Education and
Science. In addition, a seminar-discussion with participation of all interested
stakeholders including representatives of MOES, MOH, parents association,
NGO members and international organizations involved in school education,
and mass media will be held by mid-April to disseminate the results of