Astrid McDonald of Bond van Leraren (BvL) shares insights into the work of the EI EFAIDS Programme in Suriname.
1. How do the unions support teachers and students living with or affected by HIV and AIDS? At the moment our unions have not been approached by teachers and students who have been affected by HIV and AIDS. However our unions are working on a workplace policy for HIV and AIDS. We expect that teachers will feel more comfortable being open about their status when the workplace policy is in place and they know they can count on the support of teachers unions.
2. What has been the greatest achievement under the EFAIDS Programme in Suriname? Successfully persuading the government to release 5 teachers to work in the Education for All - HIV and AIDS Committee full-time and getting schools to reserve at least two days a year for the training given by this committee on subjects such as HIV and AIDS, reducing the number of drop-outs and gender safe schools have been our most effective strategies.
3. Describe the inter-union cooperation on the Surinamese EFAIDS Programme? In the Education for All – HIV and AIDS Committee there are three teachers unions participating Bvl, KOB and SOB. We are all members of EI. When we are organising activities we are always inviting and encouraging other teachers unions to join in. When there is a request from teachers for training we respond positively to their requests regardless of what union they are members of.