Education International
Education International

South African students take HIV/AIDS education programme to the US

published 25 February 2016 updated 2 March 2016

Students from a Cape Town high school are heading to California as part of an ongoing joint initiative of South African and American teachers’ unions to bring HIV/AIDS education into the classroom.

When four students and three of their teachers from Manenberg High School in Cape Town, South Africa embark on their trip to Lakeside, California’s Artesia High School in March it will highlight a project that continues to bind strong ties between cultures.

For Nur Charles, 17, Ganeefa Jones, 17, Aeyshaa Hill, 16, and Firdauz Omar, 15, the trip marks their first time overseas.

“They will attend classes there and see how an international education system works. They will also make presentations about HIV/Aids and will share ideas and our curriculum, which has more information about this subject,” said Manenberg High School teacher and MAAP co-ordinator Sydney Williams. “HIV/Aids awareness should be spread all over the world,” she said.

The latest phase in what is now an eight-year programme between schools, and to spread awareness about HIV/AIDS, the Manenberg Artesia Aids Project (MAAP) aims to address the pandemic through encouraging young people to bring awareness amongst their peers at their respective schools.

Supported by teachers’ unions the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the South African Democratic Teachers’ Union  (SADTU), both Education International (EI) affiliates, the programme was originally the idea of former AFT Deputy President Laura Rico.

During a visit to South Africa in 2008, Rico was not only struck by the impressive HIV/AIDS education in schools, but she realised how far behind the US curriculum was. The result of that experience would become MAAP.

Since 2011, the project has included student and teacher exchanges. For both schools, which deal with common issues of gang violence, drugs, unemployment and poverty, MAAP provides a positive opportunity for sharing. Last year, two students from Artesia made the trip to Cape Town.