Culture Agents Benefit from HIV/AIDS Workshop


Drama teachers and culture agents from the Ministry of Education and Youth’s regions five and six recently benefited from a two-day cultural workshop, aimed at equipping them with the necessary tools to sensitize students about HIV and AIDS.
The workshop, held at the Mandeville Hotel, was organized by the Education Ministry in collaboration with the Jamaica HIV/AIDS Prevention and Control Project (IBRD).
HIV/AIDS Programme Officer in the Ministry, Anna-Kay Magnus-Watson, explained that the workshop “is designed to equip drama teachers and culture agents with the necessary tools to (assist) them in their delivery methods when they are presenting these HIV/AIDS messages to the students”.
She added “we are also going to be teaching them how to structure drama presentations on HIV/AIDS and abstinence, so that they can in turn go back to the students and prepare these kinds of presentations with them and work with them”.
The workshop, she said, was linked to a drama competition to be held in February, which will be designated as ‘Abstinence Month’.
“We are really trying to promote abstinence with the youth because quite frankly, things are really getting out of control,” Mrs. Magnus-Watson said. “We want (the teachers and cultural agents) to go back and work with their students and prepare abstinence messages and dramatic pieces, and they will have to present this in a competition at a particular school,” she pointed out.
The workshop involved dramatic and other activities by ASHE, while Health Promotion Officer of region six, Donville Colquhoun, provided information on the National Policy for HIV/AIDS Management in Schools.
According to Mr. Colquhoun, the objectives of the policy were “to highlight the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica and (more so) in the education sector; to provide guidelines for the treatment of HIV positive students and staff; to ensure effective HIV/AIDS education for all students and staff; to promote non-discrimination towards HIV positive persons, and to promote the use of health precautions to prevent the spread of infectious diseases”.
“We are in the process of implementing the policy. Already, schools have been sensitized (about it),” he noted, adding that “each school has a mandate to set up Health Advisory Committees . that will be responsible for executing the mandate of the policy”.
Meanwhile, the more than 30 drama teachers and culture agents, who participated in the two days of intense activities, felt re-energized and motivated to go back to their respective schools to impart all they have learnt.
Donet Neil, a music teacher at the BB Coke High School in St. Elizabeth, said that the workshop “has been innovating, interesting, creative and very exciting”. “I will leave this place having a different (view) on HIV/AIDS and how I can bring it across to my students in more interesting ways,” she said.
Angelita Banton for teacher at the Garvey Maceo High School in Clarendon, said that the workshop was “an initiative, which provided (her) and the other teachers with the tools and mechanisms to go back to our schools and communities, to use the information to transform our environment and our way of thinking about the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Jamaica”.
Godfrey Rock, culture agent at Porus High School in Manchester, added that, “it’s a timely workshop and it’s extraordinary, in that it allows the students, who we are going to be dealing with to be able to understand very clearly what this virus is all about”. A similar workshop was held at the Starfish Hotel in Trelawny for drama teachers and culture agents from schools in regions three and four.

JIS Social