Ensuring that children are healthy
and able to learn is critical. Poor health and malnutrition
among school-age children lead to low school enrollment,
absenteeism, poor classroom performance, and early school
dropout. School-based programs that counteract these factors
and promote good health, hygiene, and nutrition benefit many
of the poorest and most disadvantaged children.
where malaria, malnutrition, and parasitic infections are
endemic, and where the prevalence of HIV is as high as
20%, Creative Associates is working with the Zambian government
to place schools at the forefront of the battle against
disease. The CHANGES (Communities Supporting Health, HIV/AIDS,
Gender, and Equity Education in Schools) project is implementing
a cost-effective and sustainable strategy for reaching
children and the greater community with health services and
education. It represents a multi-sectoral project that
integrates education, health, and community development.
mobilizes schools and communities across Zambia; more than
30,000 students, as well as hundreds of teachers and health
workers, are participating.
CHANGES has two components -
school health and nutrition, and community sensitization
and mobilization - both of which
incorporate HIV/AIDS awareness activities and a small grants
Under the school health and nutrition component,
teachers are trained to administer deworming medicines and
supplements to students. Teachers are also trained to include
health education in their classes. Under the leadership of
the Ministry of Education, the health and nutrition component
is expanding to 160 schools in Eastern Province, and there
are plans to expand into several other provinces. Recently,
CHANGES completed the third annual testing of students who
had received deworming treatment and micronutrients. The
biomedical data and cognitive scores from those tests are
used to identify the link between healthier students and
enhanced ability to learn. Findings to date have shown a
clear correlation between health and cognitive ability.
Awareness-raising activities have focused on preventive
health and increased
educational opportunities for girls.
CHANGES uses street theatre performances and other mobilization
strategies to focus communities on public health, education,
HIV/AIDS prevention, and the importance of girls' education.
The program also trains government officials on the value
of gender equity.
Grants to schools and communities have provided
learning materials and resource centers for children. Over
have been awarded, with 10 more awaiting approval. The grants
help local community groups build on the work of CHANGES
by supporting girls' scholarships, establishing school gardens,
and constructing latrines, safe water systems and health
and education resource centers. Several of these grants are
assisting vulnerable children, including orphans girls and
those affected by HIV/AIDS.
The AIDS epidemic in Zambia is
among the most severe in the world and threatens to undo
decades of social and economic
development. Educating young children about health is essential
to reducing the spread of the virus.
CHANGES is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to
implement life skills and HIV/AIDS prevention activities
in the curriculum. HIV/AIDS and teacher guides are translated
into local languages. On the broader policy level, CHANGES
is conducting the first comprehensive assessment of the impact
of HIV/AIDS on the education sector. The results will help
guide future government policy.
CHANGES is funded through USAID's Basic Education and Policy
Support (BEPS) Activity through July 2005.