SCHOOLS in Papua New Guinea will soon have their own HIV/AIDS and sexually-transmitted illnesses (STI) textbooks to help them learn about the virus and STIs in their Personal Development subjects taught in schools.
The textbooks, which were created and endorsed by the Education Department with help from AusAID, would be used as part of the school curriculum.
Material for teachers and lecturers are also available to assist them.
The textbooks were launched yesterday at the Badihagwa Technical Secondary School in Port Moresby by Australian High Commissioner to PNG Chris Moraitis and Education secretary Dr Joseph Pagelio.
Badihagwa will be the first school to use the text books. In all, 180,000 books will be distributed to schools nationwide.
Mr Moraitis said Australia was happy and proud to support PNG in two of its very big challenges faced right now – HIV/AIDS and education.
He said the continued spread of the HIV virus and the stigma attached to it was because of ignorance and lack of knowledge.
“You students here do not have this excuse. Based on these texts you will know what HIV is, how it spreads, how to prevent contracting it and how to care for those who might have it,” Mr Moraitis said.
He told the students that with knowledge came responsibility, which was to ensure this knowledge was passed on to others so this generation would become the one that changed the way PNG understood and addressed the challenge of HIV and AIDS.
“I understand that a warehouse in Waigani is a hive of activity as the books are packaged up for distribution to PNG’s 3,400 primary schools and 225 secondary schools,” Mr Moraitis said.
Dr Pagelio told the students that they all had a role to play in fighting the spread of HIV/AIDS and STIs.
He said that in 2005, with AusAID and the Education Department working together, an HIV/AIDS workplace policy was launched.
He said with the textbooks, students and schools were now the windows of opportunities which the Education Department could use to intervene and save them using the knowledge of HIV/AIDS.
He told the students that the best way to protect themselves from HIV was by having access to good information on the virus.
He congratulated and commended all teachers who incorporated HIV/AIDS into their daily lessons and said it was by playing these individual roles that the spread might be halted and many people spared from contracting HIV.