The Ministry of Education on Tuesday received several pieces of equipment from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). These items will be utilised under the “Youth Educator Safeguarding our Workforce” (YES) programme.
The equipment received included three laptops, three external DVD Drives, three projectors, three speakers and three CD players. These items are to be used by youth educators when needed to conduct their sessions in the classroom.
A total of 44 participants in the Ministry’s Youth Educator Programme received their certificates for completing the HIV/AIDS and Gender-Based Violence training; a three-day workshop that was conducted from September 27 – 29, 2017.
The YES Programme was launched in 2012 by the Ministry of Education in collaboration with the US Peace Corps targeting Grades Five and Nine students in schools across Guyana, focusing primarily on the intervention of trained youth educators as resource personnel in the execution of HIV/AIDS and Health Education sessions in the classroom.
Present at the handing over ceremony at the National Centre for Educational Resource Development (NCERD) were Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education, Mr. Vibert Welch; Principal Officer, Guyana and Suriname, USAID Eastern and Southern Caribbean (USAID/ESC), Mr. Mark Oviatt; Deputy Chief Education Officer (Ag), Ms. Ingrid Trotman and HIV/AIDS Focal Point/Coordinator in the Ministry, Ms. Janelle Sweatnam.
Delivering the welcome remarks was Permanent Secretary Welch. He said that the occasion signifies a great step forward for the School Health and Nutrition, HIV Unit of the Ministry of Education. He underscored that, “It is indeed progress for the Ministry of Education when we see young adults work together to fight against sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS and the issues related to gender-based violence.”
Welch went on to say that over the years, the Ministry recognised the need for inculcating gender-equitable attitudes in males and the empowerment of young women. He said that the financial support that the Ministry will be receiving from USAID through an in-country grant of US$18,952 from the Community, Family and Youth Resilience Project (CFYR) in addition to the equipment, will see the YES Programme extended to various communities within Guyana. These communities include Corriverton, Den Amstel, Diamond, Ann’s Grove, Sophia, East Ruimveldt, Lodge, Mahaica and Linden.
The funding covers the In-School programme for the academic year September 2017 to July 2018.
Welch said that the grant signifies USAID’s commitment to supporting one of the Ministry’s mandates, which is to mitigate the impact of HIV/AIDS within the education system.
According to the Permanent Secretary, now that the 44 participants have been certified and will have the necessary equipment at their disposal, the YES programme will be strengthened when content is being disseminated in the classroom.
Further, Mr. Oviatt, the USAID Representative, said that it is the CFYR Project that came up with the funding of the YES Programme. However, he said that there is a larger budget that is spread across 10 Southern Caribbean territories.
He said that the CFYR Project focuses on reducing youth involvement in crime and violence, of contracting HIV and the risk of exposure to violence, especially gender-based.
“HIV/AIDS and gender-based violence have created enormous challenges to the Guyanese society and to societies all across the globe.”
He said that these ills would have disrupted development efforts, and therefore urgent and practical solutions to seriously effect change. Oviatt reminded the youth educators that their purpose is to improve society by teaching people about what is good and bad.
Meanwhile, Deputy Chief Education Officer Ingrid Trotman, representing the Minister of Education, Nicolette Henry, said that only through the dissemination of the correct information at a young age will youths in Guyana have the chance to be the creators of an HIV/AIDS-free generation.
“With an educated resource personnel targeting Grades Five and Nine, misinformation, as we call it ‘old wives’ tales’, has the perfect breeding ground in the playgrounds of schools all over the country, but it can be eliminated at an early age,” she said.
She said too that the vital information will help youths to make better choices when it comes to their sexual health in the future. Trotman said that it is great that the Youth Educator Programme has targeted youths to be the resource persons, since youths can better relate to fellow young people.
She also noted that parents have an important role to play in this process, as they are very influential figures in a child’s life. She said that parents are important to ensure that their children have access to the correct information on HIV/AIDS.
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