2003 IPF Continuing Fellow
Major activities of the continuing fellowship project have been conducted during the reporting period of mid-October through August 2004 in three consecutive phases. There was a slight shift in the initially approved timeline for the first phase of the project due to unexpected difficulties with OSI funding. Nevertheless, I have been able to fulfill the committed activities for all phases of the project including participation in the Principles of Research on AIDS and STD Course at the University of Washington, searching for and reviewing effective HIV/AIDS education curricula developed and used in other countries, discussing activities with the mentor, and getting acquainted with the UK experience in delivering HIV/AIDS education in schools. During the second phase of the project I have conducted and assembled assessments of the acceptance of Life Skills educational program introduced in a number of Armenian schools since September 1999. Finally, I developed a draft curriculum outline for the AIDS prevention program.
This report presents in a chronological order logistic and research activities implemented during all phases of my continuing fellowship project.
First phase: October - December 2003
During this period, I have been involved in searching for effective HIV/AIDS education curricula developed and used in a number of countries. In particular, I have conducted detailed web-based search for AIDS education programs delivered in schools in the Nederland and USA and was able to download useful teaching guides.
I have also participated in the 2-week course on Principles of Research on AIDS and STD Course, the 10th Annual Course on Principles of STD and HIV Research, at the University of Washington, USA. This was the opportunity for me to get in touch with the latest findings in the sphere of HIV/STD epidemiological and behavioral investigations. In addition, the course provided the opportunity to communicate with colleagues involved in HIV research and discuss possibilities of future collaboration with international partners.
One of the major accomplishments during the reporting period was getting in touch with Sex Education Forum, National Children’s Bureau, one of the leading UK organizations specializing in the implementation of AIDS education in the UK, and to negotiate a visit to the UK to get acquainted with their experience in delivering AIDS school education programs. I had the opportunity to work together with them to share good practice and articulate common ideas in support of AIDS education for schoolchildren. I also audited relationships education class in one of the high schools in London.
While in the UK, I have also had the opportunity to participate in the seminar organized by the Department of Infectious and Tropical Diseases at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The seminar discussed the issue of AIDS, orphanhood and educational outcomes in South Africa: the impact of HIV/AIDS on children and their education in KwaZula-Natal, South Africa. I have also attended HIV/AIDS Knowledge Program Lecture Series entitled, ‘MEMA kwa Vijana: results of a randomized controlled trial of an adolescent sexual and reproductive health intervention program in rural Tanzania’.
In the UK, I have been able to acquire professional books related to sex/relationships education, a guide for schools and those working with them, and a step-by-step guide for teachers enabling and assisting them for organizing and delivering Sex and Relationships Education.
During December 2003 I have been working on preparation of brief reports (activity report and financial report) for the first phase of the continuing fellowship project and on modifications of my IPF web page to reflect my continuing fellowship commitments. I have also made the first move to drafting the research paper.
Second Phase: January-April 2004
In January 2004 a short questionnaire was developed to assess the acceptance of Life Skills education program currently taught in a number of pilot schools all over Armenia. The questionnaire was developed in English, translated into Armenian, and pre-tested. Minor changes were introduced in the questionnaire after pre-testing.
Although large scale activities on building consensus among major stakeholders were constrained due to restrictions in the initially approved project budget and activities, I have been able to facilitate to some extent constructive communication among major stakeholders. Meetings-discussions with MOES authorities, representatives of NGO sector and international organizations took place as a result of my efforts and in the frames of the events organized by the American University of Armenia, Ministries of Education and Science and Health.
In February 2004, I have conducted interviews to assess the acceptance of Life Skills education program. A total of 15 in-depth interviews with the members of working group, the Ministry of Education officials, and the NGO sector representatives involved in development and introduction of Life Skills program in schools were conducted. All interviews were translated from Armenian into English and transcribed into word-processing format. A short report summarizing main findings based on interviews with key informants was also prepared. These findings are presented in the research paper.
In addition to interviews, during March 2004 all available evaluations of Life Skills project were acquired and analyzed. Among these evaluations, a report prepared by UNICEF on evaluation on introduction of “Life Skills” Program into education system in Armenia should be cited. Also, major findings from all sources are reflected in the research paper.
During April 2004 I have been working on preparation of interim reports (interim research paper, activity report, and related financial documentation) and on design and modifications of my web page.
Third Phase: May-August 2004
During May-July 2004 a curriculum outline for AIDS prevention program was drafted. The draft curriculum consists of several lessons addressing the following issues: facts about HIV and AIDS, attitudes to HIV/AIDS, transmission and prevention of HIV, sex and HIV. Each lesson consists of two activities aimed at helping students to acquire correct knowledge on HIV/AIDS and develop skills necessary to protect themselves from HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. Each lesson is also supported by the number of quizzes and exercises to reinforce the learning process. The curriculum outline is presented in the research paper.
In July, I have also participated in the XV International AIDS Conference held in Bangkok, Thailand and presented my research conducted in the confines of the International Policy Fellowships program. The paper was entitled “Integrating HIV/AIDS education into school-based programs in Armenia: attitude of policymakers and school executives.” In addition, a number of presentations addressing my participation at the XV International AIDS Conference and have been made upon return from Bangkok. In particular, International Research and Exchanges Board (IREX) organized a meeting for its alumni during which I gave a presentation, entitled “AIDS Awareness – Sharing Knowledge and Experience.” Also, the Agency for Educational Development (AED) in Armenia organized a debriefing for the XV International AIDS Conference participants from Armenia, to share our insights and information obtained from the conference with representatives from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), Academy for Educational Development (AED), Medicines San Frontiers (MSF) Belgium and MSF Greece, and INTRAH Health International Prime II project.
In July-early August the draft curriculum was translated into Armenian and edited. The curriculum was presented to the Ministry of Education and Science. This curriculum outline might be used by curriculum planners as a basic framework for development of a more comprehensive school-based health education program.
During August I have been working on preparation of final reports (research
and policy papers, activity report, and related financial documentation)
and on design and modifications of my web page.