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The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) School ALERT Project, introduced by the Ghana Education Service (GES) to educate school children on HIV prevention is failing in the Eastern Region.

Most of the teaching aids sent to the schools for the training of children in 2006 when the project started have not been replaced after they were ruined while most teachers were not interested in integrating HIV studies into their routine.

School children who were trained to serve as peer educators under the project had graduated but no effort has been made to recruit educators while most of the teachers who were trained as patrons of HIV ALERT Clubs in the schools have either been transferred or are pursuing further studies.

Regional Coordinators and Circuit Supervisors who are supposed monitor the project at the district level are not performing because GES is not refunding their transport expenses.

District Directors of Education and school heads in the region were also not demonstrating much interest in the implementation of the project.

This came to light at a meeting of the Eastern Regional AIDS Committee (RAC) in Koforidua on Thursday to discuss the response of the Region to the HIV and AIDS challenge.

Eastern Region had recorded the highest HIV prevalence in the country for many years until the 2011 national HIV prevalence survey when it was overtaken by the Central Region.

Though the Region had reduced its HIV prevalence from 7.9 per cent in 2002 to 3.2 per cent in 2010, the HIV prevalence in the region increased from 3.2 per cent in 2010 to 3. 6 per cent, according to the 2011 survey.

In reaction to questions at the meeting, the Eastern Regional School Health Coordinator, Ms Bernice Ofori-Akyeampomaa, said out of 1,047 schools in the Region that reported that they had been teaching the pupils issues on HIV for the 2009/2010 academic year, only 167 schools qualified for the School HIV ALERT flag.

She said for the 2010/2011 academic year, out of 1, 112 schools in the region that reported on the issue, only 219 schools were declared HIV ALERT.

Ms Ofori-Akyeampomaa said no school was declared HIV ALERT in Akyemmansa, Kwaebibirim and Yilo Krobo Districts and the West Akim Municipality.

She explained that for a school to be declared as an HIV ALERT and be given the flag the school had to show evidence of materials used in teaching the HIV project in the school.

There should also be evidence of exercises done by the school children on HIV in their exercise books among other requirements.

Ms Ofori-Akyeampomaa said schools, which were declared HIV ALERT were allowed to keep the flag for one year after which they have to submit themselves for annual review and it was only when they met the criteria that they would be allowed to keep the HIV ALERT flag for another year.

Members of the RAC were not happy about the situation and called on the promoters of the project to find ways of resolving the challenge facing the project.

Source: GNA

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