Training teachers to deliver healthy lifestyle lessons: UNESCO IITE advancing a large-scale project in Kyrgyzstan

In June 2018, UNESCO IITE supported the organisation of a training seminar in Cholpon-Ata (Kyrgyzstan) for education managers and professors of pedagogical universities. At the seminar academic staff of Issyk‑Kul, Osh, Jalal‑Abad and Naryn universities, including rectors, vice-rectors, deans and heads of departments, was introduced to the new methodology for conducting HIV prevention and healthy lifestyle (HLS) classes with the use of innovative educational materials produced by UNESCO IITE.

About 300 educators reached with training activities: about the project and its first results

The workshop in Cholpon-Ata is the fourth training event for health educators in a row that Kyrgyz State University n.a. Arabayev and UNESCO IITE organise this year with the support of the Ministry of Education and Science of the Kyrgyz Republic. In 2018, more than 80 teachers and head teachers from 35 schools in the cities of Osh, Naryn and Jalal-Abad already benefited from similar seminars. In 2017, 212 teachers and educators from six regional and district centers attended the trainings. This project is carried out within UNAIDS regional cooperation programme for technical assistance to the countries of Eastern Europe and Central Asia on prevention, control and management of HIV / AIDS with the financial support of the Government of the Russian Federation.

The main objective of the project is to boost capacities of teachers and educators through both theoretical and practical components: providing the training methodology and direct advisory support for teachers. During the workshop, educators had an opportunity to conduct their first trial lessons based on the newly grasped methodology as well as to receive feedback from experts and work on their errors.

However, educators are not the only ones whose knowledge is assessed. During the training, progress made by their students has also been anaysed. In 2017, some schoolteachers in Osh and Naryn completed similar training. Valentina Gorkina and Rano Kutanova, national trainers of the project, conducted a follow-up survey of high school students (9-11 grade) to compare results of the students who attended the HLS classes and those who did not. The survey showed much higher level of awareness in students who had classes on HLS. In average, they gave from 1.5 to 3 times more correct answers when asked about HIV and STI prevention, substance use, gender equality and reproductive health.

Jalal-Abad hosted a seminar for teachers for the first time. As a result, the event evoked a lot of enthusiasm. The participants even expressed an intention to hold a national conference on HLS and develop a unified strategy for teaching healthy lifestyle.

Teacher training on health education: strategy and tactics

At the Cholpon-Ata seminar, representatives from pedagogical universities and education faculties discussed possible integration of the module on healthy lifestyle into the “Life Safety” course compulsory for students in all pedagogical universities and faculties of Kyrgyzstan.

The module piloted in 2017/18 academic year at the leading pedagogical university of Kyrgyzstan – Kyrgyz State University n.a. Arabayev . The module is based on the manual  “Lessons on healthy lifestyle for 6-11 grades” (available in Russian) and interactive materials – 11 edutainment videos about health, love and relationships created jointly by UNESCO IITE and popular YouTube channel “Nowchpok” in Russian and Kyrgyz languages. The training module should equip future schoolteachers with knowledge and skills that will enable them to teach confidently about healthy lifestyle and HIV prevention.

Toolobek Abdrakhmanov, rector of Kyrgyz State University n.a. Arabayev, presented the module to his colleagues from other pedagogical universities, while Svetlana Sakibaeva, Head of Department of Special Psychology and Psychological Intervention, shared her experience of running this module within the “Life Safety” curriculum.  She also talked about students’ positive feedback and the progress in knowledge of HLS basics and HIV prevention among future educators.

Another tool designed to help in health education delivery is the online-course “Adolescent health in a life course perspective”. It targets pedagogical universities’ professors as well as practicing teachers and prepares them for running classes for adolescents on HLS skills and attitudes. On the first day of the seminar, participating professors had a chance to master selected modules of this online-course.

Ainura Kachkinbaeva, head teacher of a secondary school from Issyk-Kul region, presented the results of a similar seminar organised last year by Kyrgyz State University with the support of UNESCO IITE:

It became much easier for teachers to address sensitive subjects such as love, relationship, HIV and STI prevention. Now they can benefit from ready-made lesson plans and wonderful animated videos created by UNESCO IITE and “Nowchpok”. After the UNESCO-supported seminar, my colleague and I trained all homeroom teachers in our school. So now our pupils have one or two HLS lessons every month. These classes have been a huge success.

“I really liked the new HLS module designed for pedagogy students. I would like to introduce it to my students and colleagues from the Osh Pedagogical Institute”, said Akchach Zholdosheva, Head of Educational Pedagogy Department at Osh State University.

Tigran Yepoyan, UNESCO regional adviser on HIV and health education represented UNESCO IITE at the seminar. He awarded certificates of appreciation to the rector of Kyrgyz State University Toolobek Abdrakhmanov, national coach Valentina Gorkina, project coordinator Rano Kutanova, Ainura Kachkinbaeva and senior educators from Kyrgyz State University n.a. Arabayev – Svetlana Sakimbaeva and Nadia Murtalieva.

At the end of the seminar, participants agreed to integrate the module “Healthy Lifestyle” in the compulsory curriculum for students in teaching disciplines starting from new academic year. This initiative will provide a systematic way of training health educators in Kyrgyzstan.

More information about the project is available here.