WINDHOEK – As part of the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (Pepfar), the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) together with the Namibian government has launched the DREAMS (Determined, Resilient, Empowered, AIDS-free, Mentored, Safe) STEM educational empowerment programme.
The programme, which is aimed to empower learners at 16 schools in the country, was launched last week at Daniel Namuhuja Secondary School in Oshikoto Region.
DREAMS is a PEPFAR-funded programme focusing on adolescent girls and young women to reduce their risk of contracting HIV and increase their ability to fulfill their aspirations and dreams.
Project Hope country director Rosalia Indongo said Oshikoto is one of the regions with a high HIV prevelance rate, hence the decision to focus more on schools around Oshikoto.
She said: “There is also a high number of schoolgirls with HIV infection, compared to males, that is why our most focus is on girls and young women.”
In response to why only some schools around the country are benefiting from this programme, an official from USAID told Youth Corner: “DREAMS is implemented in areas with high HIV prevalence, high teenage pregnancy and school dropout rates.”
According to the statement issued by the U.S. Embassy, the aim of the programme includes, among others, provision of sexual reproductive health and gender-based violence education, counselling services, safe spaces and capacity building in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).
“All of you have the ability to navigate the difficulties you face in life, especially during the challenging years of transformation from an adolescent to an adult. DREAMS cannot do it for you, but DREAMS will help you unlock your potential. And make you a more resilient person who can cope with these challenges,” highlighted U.S. ambassador Lisa Johnson in her speech delivered by USAID regional advisor, Olavi Tauya.
The U.S. government also handed over 3 500 textbooks valued at N$850 000 to the principals of all participating schools and safe places in Oshikoto, where more than 8 300 adolescent girls and young women have so far benefited from DREAMS services.
Twenty-seven STEM teachers were already trained in Tsumeb District, and the training will now expand to DREAMS schools in Omuthiya and Onandjokwe.
The programme is implemented by USAID through its partner Project Hope together with the Namibian University of Science and Technology (Nust), as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) with its partner, International Training and Education Center for Health (ITECH). DREAMS is currently run in Windhoek, Katima Mulilo, Tsumeb, Omuthiya and Onandjokwe.
PEPFAR is the largest commitment ever by a single nation toward an international health initiative – a comprehensive approach to combating HIV/AIDS around the world. PEPFAR employs the most diverse prevention, treatment and care strategy in the world, with an emphasis on transparency and accountability for results. In Namibia, PEPFAR is led by the U.S. ambassador and programmed by an inter-agency team chaired by the PEPFAR coordinator.
New Era Reporter
2019-06-13 10:42:08 3 days ago