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Friday, 30 August, 2002

School HIV/AIDS week September 2002

Statement by André Gaum, Western Cape Education Minister

Young people of today have been referred to as the AIDS generation. They have never known a world without HIV or AIDS. In South Africa, they have the fastest rate of infection. They are already, and will continue to be, the most affected by this tragedy of biblical proportions.

As parents, as teachers, and as young people, the decisions we make, and the commitment we show, will have ramifications beyond our own lives.

The week of 2nd to 8th September has been declared National School HIV/AIDS Week for 2002. The Western Cape Education Department is once again committed to supporting this calendar-event, and this year that commitment extends to making a R1000 budget available to each of its schools for this purpose.

The themes chosen for this year are "We care; do you?" and "Live and let live".

School HIV/AIDS Week represents an opportunity for schools to develop, strengthen and demonstrate their own commitment to the struggle against HIV and AIDS - at the community level. It is also an opportunity for schools to engage in inter-sectoral partnerships, or to deepen such co-operation where it already exists.

Schools are therefore encouraged to arrange activities aimed at increasing awareness of the growing prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the community. The participation of community-based organisations, faith based organisations, NGOs, local Health Clinics and others, is welcomed.

Recognising that this first week of September is not always opportune for some schools, schools this year have also been given the option of establishing their own HIV/AIDS Week at a more convenient time.

The Western Cape Education Department's HIV/AIDS Life Skills Programme has made provision for each school to claim back up to R1 000-00 to cover costs for this. Half of this budget should be allocated to learner activities, and half to educator and/or parent activities. Catering and transport costs are specifically excluded. Local sponsorship designed to enhance or extend school-community programmes, is further encouraged.

In a report published earlier this year, titled "Education and HIV/AIDS: A Window of Hope", the World Bank said that education held the key to the successful fight against HIV/AIDS.

To quote the World Bank: "Education offers a window of hope unlike any other for countries, communities and families to escape the deadly grip of HIV/AIDS. Vigorous pursuit of Education for All goals is imperative, along with education aimed at HIV prevention."

It is clear that we must work together to fight this disease and to support education in this quest, so that we can break through to a brighter future, together.

Media inquiries:
Ruhan Robbertze
Cell: 082 577 6551
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