In its evaluation of the recently completed EI Education for All/AIDS (EFAIDS) solidarity and development programme, the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which funded the programme, praised highly the outstanding impact the of the programme during its six-year duration.
The programme, which came to an end in summer, 2011, combined two essential elements in EI’s work: advocacy for Education for All (EFA) – where teachers and their unions work to ensure that children get free access to quality public education and the fight against HIV and AIDS – where teachers gain the knowledge and skills they need to help protect themselves, their colleagues and their students from HIV infection and AIDS. Within this framework, the EFAIDS programme also dealt with related issues such as the elimination of child labour, developing gender-safe schools and combating stigma and discrimination.
Programme activities were implemented by teacher unions in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean – from India to Haiti and from Peru to Tanzania. Teachers in these countries who participated in the programme demonstrated great enthusiasm and commitment to preserving life, promoting quality education and providing a brighter future for teachers, children and society as a whole.
The Ministry’s report on the programme outcomes found that teachers in about 50 countries had acquired knowledge and skills in HIV prevention, fighting AIDS-related stigma, creating awareness among the general public of the education sectors’ role in fighting HIV and AIDS and advocating for skills-based health education in teacher training schools. Moreover, learners had acquired knowledge and skills on HIV/AIDS prevention, providing support to orphans and vulnerable children and the mobilisation of membership for EFA.
“Working together with EI in this innovative programme was a very valuable experience for us and many others,” said Louise Anten, Head of the Education and Research Division at the Dutch Ministry for European Affairs and International Cooperation. She went on to say that “Unfortunately, due to policy changes and severe budget cuts on the Dutch Oversees Development Aid (ODA) budget, the Social Development Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs was not able to continue to support this programme. However, I sincerely hope that there will be future opportunities to sustain the accomplishments achieved.”
“The Ministry’s contribution to the EFAIDS Programme has been a valuable investment in the building the capacity of teachers and teachers unions to contribute to positive change in society during the years the programme was undertaken,” said Fred van Leeuwen, EI General Secretary. “The commitment of the EI staff and the representatives of member organisations involved was really impressive. It is particularly encouraging to note that some of EI’s affiliates have shown further commitment by investing part of their annual budget to maintaining the aspects of the programme despite the ending of the EFAIDS programme itself. We are grateful to the Dutch government for supporting EI and its member organisations in such a substantial way in the fight against the spread of HIV/AIDS and in promoting Education for All.”