PCP HIV AIDS Toolkit/Elementary & High Schools
Implementing HIV/AIDS Activities in a High School Setting
Establishing the Project
When getting a HIV/AIDS seminar off of its feet, as with most projects in the Philippines, the first thing the project needs is legitimacy and approval. In a high school setting, that usually means approaching your school's principal first. If the event is situated outside of your high school, contact your mayor, and perhaps your barangay captain. Contact with your DepEd division office is not necessary, but doesn't hurt.
If there is a reliable and appropriate person that could serve as your counterpart, feel free to approach him or her before the principal and then present the proposal together.
Before meeting with the principal, establish a rough outline of what you want to accomplish and what resources it will take. How many days will it be? Where will it be held? Will the school need to donate time, staff, or equipment to the project? Will students need to be excused from class? What exactly will the activities entail; some topics--such as certain aspects of family planning--should be mentioned ahead of time. After a rough outline has been drafted bring the proposal to your principal for approval.
It may be a good idea to have him sign a preliminary agreement supporting the idea; something along the lines of "PCV X has my full support in developing Y, a HIV/AIDS activity." This will go a long way to smoothing out the rest of your work, since many staff members, when confronted with a request, will tell you to see the principal first. This way you can simply flash the paper and move on.
Gathering Your Resources, Developing Activities, and Getting the Word Out
After you have your principal's blessing, find a counterpart, if you haven't already. If you don't plan on working with an outside organization, it's best to approach the head of your MAPEH Department first. MAPEH stands for Music, Arts, Physical Education, and Health. This is the Department that teaches Reproductive Health. The head can suggest someone or serve as your counterpart. Another alternative is the school nurse, or an interested teacher.
Also, ask the MAPEH what reproductive health is currently taught. While it is a part of the curriculum, some schools never "get" to that part of the curriculum. Review the school's textbook--while the teachers may say they cover family planning, their textbooks are often outdated and leave out what many PCVs may consider vital information. This can help in shaping what your seminars or activities need to cover.
The school's faculty also serves as an excellent gateway to the groups you want to invite. There is almost always an advisor for the Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts or the Supreme Student Government Organization (SUSGO) on the staff. Ask around and they will be able to get their respective demographics to attend your seminar. The SUSGO advisor will also be in touch with the SUSGO members of other schools, as they often attend events together.
Also, students in any of your classes will be able to tell you the names of the students that are SK members. Get in touch with these students and ask for the time and location of the next municipal SK meeting. They are usually held once a month. Mine is held every second Sunday, at 1 p.m. at the municipal hall. Attend the meeting, outline (sell) the seminar, ask how many SK members you can expect and for their names and contact information. Hammer the date into their minds, and make sure you send out reminder the day before.
The best way to invite guest speakers or specific groups is through a formal letter signed by yourself, your counterpart and noted by your principal. When asking for guest speakers, tell them how much time they have and what, specifically, you want them to discuss. Be sure to note whether the activity requires a registration free, or if lunch or merienda will need to be brought by attendees, or you will face an endless stream of texts asking about those things. Find the appropriate office or ask the advisor to deliver the letter. Make sure you allow plenty of time for a reply, a week at least.
In terms of resources, approach your school's supply officer and formally request (preferably weeks in advance) the use of any sound systems, microphones or other materials (copies?) your seminar or workshop may require. Schools usually do not mind covering overhead costs like electricity, venue, equipment, certificates and snacks/lunch for guest speakers, but funding for anything more will be harder to obtain. You may consider approaching the PTCA or your mayor for additional funds‚ but at least a month ahead of time.
Follow-up is key. In the days before the implementation date, approach everyone involved and remind them of what they promised. Provide advance schedules to attendees and faculty. If the event is open to the public, have students put up posters beforehand or make an announcement during a flag ceremony--this is an excellent way to get information to students, since this is the one time they congregate as a group.
Make sure the venue is ready the day before (appropriate amount of chairs, sound system in place, and a board if necessary), along with your counterpart. If your students are excused from class if they want to attend, make sure their advisors make that announcement the day before.
Some things to consider: back-up generators, tarps for rain, and back-up seminars for guest speakers that don't show up. Don't forget certificates for invited attendees (SK, SUSGO etc.) and certificates/mementos for guest speakers. And for God's sake, don't forget the icebreakers. Anything longer than an hour requires lots and lots of icebreakers, and for a whole day event, they expect at least two intermissions.